Weathering the Future
Weathering the Future
Sci-Fi Chronicle

Weathering the Future

Writer

Dearbhaile Kitt

Images

Thomaz Rezende

image

This Sci-fi Chronicle aims to illustrate the consequences of climate change and how emerging technology could be used to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to help the world to become carbon-neutral.
This Sci-fi Chronicle aims to illustrate the consequences of climate change and how emerging technology could be used to remove carbon from the atmosphere and to help the world to become carbon-neutral.

June 2031

Maria clicks her messaging device, it displays no new messages, "still no news" she thinks to herself. She opens her message thread with Lucia to double-check, and stares at her last two undelivered messages. She composes another one: Hey, please contact me as soon as you can. I am so worried about you, I hope you are ok. She hesitates before hitting send, then powers down the device. She has been so worried about her friend, the flooding where Lucia lives has been some of the worst on record, and she’s not been able to get in touch with her for weeks. Just as she is about to put it down, a new notification flashes up on her screen. She clicks on it, and it beams in front of her.

Image: Thomaz Rezende

Image: Thomaz Rezende

Hey Maria, it has been so crazy here, the power was restored only a few days ago, but then the internet was overloaded, so it has been tricky to get in contact. We had to evacuate the city because of the floodwaters, and we are now staying in a hotel. I do not know how long we will be here, and I was not able to take many of my belongings, only a small bag. It is so scary, but we are safe now. I will write again soon.

Lucia

Hey Maria, it has been so crazy here, the power was restored only a few days ago, but then the internet was overloaded, so it has been tricky to get in contact. We had to evacuate the city because of the floodwaters, and we are now staying in a hotel. I do not know how long we will be here, and I was not able to take many of my belongings, only a small bag. It is so scary, but we are safe now. I will write again soon.

Lucia

October 2031

Maria is sitting at her kitchen table reading through a textbook, when gets a notification on her device, she clicks 'more,' and the news report beams up in front of her in a holographic display.

Breaking News

Good evening, in a briefing earlier today, the head of state addressed the nation in response to the Year Without a Summer, stating that "this was our darkest hour, but we are hopeful for brighter days. The military is doing everything they can to deliver food rations to those in need, and we promise that no one will go without." The widespread crop failure continues to cause knock on effects across the country, with many people not being able to afford fresh food items as they reach an all-time high.

For more on the unfolding crisis, press 1.

Maria turns off the device, and tries to go back to studying. But her device vibrates again, letting her know she has a new message.

Hey Maria, how are you? It seems bad over there, how are you holding up?

Lucia

Hey Maria, how are you? It seems bad over there, how are you holding up?

Lucia

Weathering the Future

Weathering the Future

Hey Lucia, it is ok... I keep daydreaming of apples, melons, and oranges. Haha. It would be so good to have a bite of something fresh. But I have my delicious rations... It is mostly microalgae-based proteins, so it is not too bad. How is it being back in the city?

Maria

Hey Lucia, it is ok... I keep daydreaming of apples, melons, and oranges. Haha. It would be so good to have a bite of something fresh. But I have my delicious rations... It is mostly microalgae-based proteins, so it is not too bad. How is it being back in the city?

Maria

It feels good to be home, Maria, but it is also strange. Many shops and small businesses got swept away in the floodwaters or just could not re-open, so it looks like a ghost town. We were lucky, the floodwaters did not damage our place too much, and most of the stuff is ok. Some of our friends lost everything. It has been devastating, but things are slowly getting better.

Lucia

It feels good to be home, Maria, but it is also strange. Many shops and small businesses got swept away in the floodwaters or just could not re-open, so it looks like a ghost town. We were lucky, the floodwaters did not damage our place too much, and most of the stuff is ok. Some of our friends lost everything. It has been devastating, but things are slowly getting better.

Lucia

February 2032

Breaking news

Good morning, it has been confirmed by independent investigators as part of the Future of the World Agreement that high-carbon emitting countries will pay damages to low-carbon emitting countries, to acknowledge those countries' outsized role in effects of climate change. This is the latest development from the Future of the World Agreement, after fossil fuels and geoengineering methods were officially banned a few weeks ago as part of the emergency measures to reach carbon neutrality. It comes as last year, a high-carbon emission country trialed cloud seeding and sun-reflecting sprays, after parts of the country experienced prolonged periods without rain and extreme heat. While these methods did have the intended result, when rain came, it never stopped, leading to the Year Without a Summer and to catastrophic crop failure, while causing persistent rain in a neighboring country, driving many rivers to burst their banks and widespread flooding.

For more on the Future of the World Agreement, press 1.

"Finally, some good news." Maria thinks as she starts composing a message to Lucia on her device.

Can you believe it, Lucia? First the Fossil Fuel ban and now this. It feels like we are living through some crazy times. I am so happy that finally something is being done. I hope that we never experience something like last year again.

Maria

Can you believe it, Lucia? First the Fossil Fuel ban and now this. It feels like we are living through some crazy times. I am so happy that finally something is being done. I hope that we never experience something like last year again.

Maria

Maria clicks send, and navigates to find out more about the Future of World Agreement. She scans page after page, taking in all the latest developments incredulously. It is not long before her messaging device vibrates with a notification. It is from Lucia.

I know right?! It seems so much is changing, I do not remember it fully, but it reminds me of the pandemic of the 2020s. Hopefully, it will bring positive changes, I think we really need it. Last year was horrible, and I do not think anyone had a good 2031. I need to go to work now, but let us talk soon.

Lucia

I know right?! It seems so much is changing, I do not remember it fully, but it reminds me of the pandemic of the 2020s. Hopefully, it will bring positive changes, I think we really need it. Last year was horrible, and I do not think anyone had a good 2031. I need to go to work now, but let us talk soon.

Lucia

Image: Thomaz Rezende

Image: Thomaz Rezende

March 2036

Lucia is staring out of the window, looking at the rain, on an electric train home. The train passes by a direct air capture plant that was built two years ago with some of the payment her country received from the Future of World Agreement. "It almost looks like loads of air conditioning units stacked on top of each,” Lucia thinks to herself. It is the first time she has seen one and the size of it takes her by surprise. She wonders momentarily about the CO2 being piped to geographic storage locations under her feet. Her mind wanders to her friend Maria, so she takes out her messaging device and composes a message. She gets up to get off the train, as it slows down for the next station, and puts the hood up on her bioplastic coat in preparation for stepping off the train and into the rain.

Maria closes the door to her house and asks her home assistant to turn on the lights and boil the kettle. Her messaging device has three new alerts, one of them from Lucia. After she has read it, she walks over to the kettle and takes out a wastewater bioplastic (PHA) mug and a herbal tea bag. Putting the tea bag into the mug, she pours the hot water in, takes it to the couch and sits down to reply to Lucia.

It is such a coincidence that you saw one of those today because guess where I just got back from? A Future of the World party! It is something the local government organized to celebrate the new bio-refinery opening, and everyone was encouraged to bring some biomass they had at home. In case you are wondering, I have brought a bag of dead leaves and some nut casings. There was live music, and it was actually a lot of fun. The biomass extracts CO2 from the atmosphere while it grows, and all the biomass people collected for the party will pass through a pyrolysis method, and it will be applied as soil-enhancing biochar across the new woodland that was afforested two years ago, which is pretty great, right? The excess biochar will be distributed among all those that came to the Future of the World Party, and it will be a perfect add-on for soil used in the urban greenhouse in our building. It is really impressive how the biochar improves the absorption capacity of the soil, not only for nutrients but also for water! I heard about farmers who used to depend heavily on rains for the second harvest of the year and who, thanks, to the use of biochar, can now relax a bit, since they need much less water for their plants to prosper. Since the year without Summer back in 2031, no one wishes (or is allowed) to meddle with the weather anymore, but it is so good to know that know we have found ways to feed more people on fewer resources – and even clean the atmosphere of CO2! So much changed from five years ago... Anyway, I should go to bed, it is late here. Take care.

Maria

It is such a coincidence that you saw one of those today because guess where I just got back from? A Future of the World party! It is something the local government organized to celebrate the new bio-refinery opening, and everyone was encouraged to bring some biomass they had at home. In case you are wondering, I have brought a bag of dead leaves and some nut casings. There was live music, and it was actually a lot of fun. The biomass extracts CO2 from the atmosphere while it grows, and all the biomass people collected for the party will pass through a pyrolysis method, and it will be applied as soil-enhancing biochar across the new woodland that was afforested two years ago, which is pretty great, right? The excess biochar will be distributed among all those that came to the Future of the World Party, and it will be a perfect add-on for soil used in the urban greenhouse in our building. It is really impressive how the biochar improves the absorption capacity of the soil, not only for nutrients but also for water! I heard about farmers who used to depend heavily on rains for the second harvest of the year and who, thanks, to the use of biochar, can now relax a bit, since they need much less water for their plants to prosper. Since the year without Summer back in 2031, no one wishes (or is allowed) to meddle with the weather anymore, but it is so good to know that know we have found ways to feed more people on fewer resources – and even clean the atmosphere of CO2! So much changed from five years ago... Anyway, I should go to bed, it is late here. Take care.

Maria

6 topics
Adapting to Climate Change
Environment Policy, Economics, and Management
Land Governance
Natural Resources
Prevention and Management of Acute Crises and Disasters
Regional and Sectoral Economic Development
7 SDGs
03 Good Health and Well-Being
06 Clean water and Sanitation
09 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
13 Climate Action
15 Life On Land
16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Related Content

1 editorial projects
3 technology domains
5 technology methods
  • Cloud Seeding
  • Pyrolysis
  • Direct Air Capture
  • Inductive Transport Charging
  • Sun-reflecting Spray
5 technology applications
3 stories
4 industries
  • Agriculture
  • Environment & Resources
  • Government & Citizenship
  • Food
6 topics
  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • Environment Policy, Economics, and Management
  • Land Governance
  • Natural Resources
  • Prevention and Management of Acute Crises and Disasters
  • Regional and Sectoral Economic Development
7 SDGs
  • 03 Good Health and Well-Being
  • 06 Clean water and Sanitation
  • 09 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action
  • 15 Life On Land
  • 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions