Coming soon to a city near you!
Extract from OUT OF THE DEPTHS by Noel Hodson (see right-hand margin)
Sociologists have reasoned that the birth and development of great artists, philosophers and inventors, such as the famous figures of the Renaissance in Europe, requires a critical-mass of population to educate, inspire and support them and to create a receptive environment in which their talents will flourish. In short – emergent genius needs to stand on the shoulders of giants of civilisation; giants who have created stability and prosperity, and who provide liberal, intelligent patronage of arts and science. Can we, without the critical-mass, from our tiny, shattered population, struggling for survival, organise society and find the wherewithal to nurture mankind’s next Renaissance?
Professor Martin Blackmoor, Dean of the University of London 2014.
80% of the World’s population lives on the coastal margin. If they suddenly retreated inland, utter chaos would ensue. Global Analyses of Populations and Physiography -1997
In America in New York State and New York City, the rising waters had disturbed the lives of twenty-million people. As in Europe, a large percentage of the population had died of Glacier ‘Flu, the indiscriminate killer pandemic. Long Island was mostly below water, the Statue of Liberty stood ankle deep in the ocean, battered by waves that on stormy days leapt up and disrespectfully doused her face. Fierce ‘Can-Do’ survivors had miraculously constructed floating wooden skirts around famously tall buildings; skirts that rose and fell on the tides providing safe landing and berthing for a myriad of small boats clustered at the feet, or rather knees, of Manhattan skyscrapers. The Hudson River made a conduit for the sea to invade inland, west of the Taconic Mountains. In the north, Lake Ontario rose as ocean waters reversed the flow of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and flooded down the Mohawk River, cutting the State in half. The Atlantic water, fed by the Labrador Current, complete with immense icebergs as large as major mountains, direct from Greenland and the Artic Circle, was bitterly cold, giving rise to innumerable grim ironic jokes on the theme of “global warming.”
Like Londoners, millions of citizens had made for higher ground – of which, unlike London, there was plenty. And like London, the New York supply infrastructure, food, medical, fuel, sewage and water failed under the strain of the mass relocation and shorted-out electrical power. Like London, all these things could be fixed. But again like London, the experts and labour to make things work were in very short supply.
At first it seemed the smart money was on those who made it into the Appalachian Mountains and the Allegheny Plateau, rising in places as high as six-thousand-feet – for how could the ocean reach up there – and there was plenty of space, all the space they needed, for mankind and all the displaced farm animals. In theory the mountain dwelling refugees would be alright. A little of the old pioneering spirit – some rapid courses on farming and food production and those who survived the ‘flu would make it. They would pull through.
But, there were two additional buggeration factors that Londoners did not have to cope with. Firstly, it was now winter and it was unbelievably cold. It was hellishly cold. And it snowed heavily. It was so cold and wintry that it was far safer to stay indoors than to venture out to take care of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry; particularly for amateur farmers, still dreaming of centrally heated penthouse apartments. So getting food was a very tough proposition. The distances to storage centres, abandoned supermarkets and the like could be very long – and fuel was now harder to come by. So foraging for food was often unsuccessful. Some isolated and unfit people simply died of hunger, marooned in snowdrifts or iced in to their cabins and mansions.
And secondly, most people were armed.
It was exactly for this type of emergency that American families had for many years fought to retain the God given right to own weapons. There was a gun for every man, woman and child in the States. There were limitless amounts of ammunition – enough to kill the whole population of the United States of America about three hundred times over. It was enthusiastically referred to as “Overkill”. The overkill capacity was a subject of excited urban-legends, particularly among the teenagers and young strong males – who were of course, like all those under forty-five, still immortal.
Militia and gun-school trained middle aged men and women also gloried in their skills with weapons. This is what they had trained for; what they had fantasised about; this was raw survival; so most people, on most foraging missions, were armed. The armaments in some cases were spectacular. They were not limited to handguns or hunting rifles. Military weapons of awesome power had rapidly found their way from abandoned military camps and weapons stores into the surviving civilian population. Previously peaceful, mild mannered, suburban fathers and mothers, teenagers and grandparents raided village stores – in Humvees or Jeeps or giant 4×4 trucks – when they could still find fuel, and, while loading the entire contents of the shop into their vehicle – for who knew just what they might need in the future – another foraging party would appear, challenge the first group – and then wage war with automatic rifles firing dozens of armour penetrating rounds per second. Truck mounted machine guns were not uncommon, with grenade guns, bazookas, anti-tank missiles and every manner of lethal weapon.
Survivors of the floods, pestilence, grief and privation entered glorious battle in quiet mountain towns with fellow Americans, over frozen turkeys, pastry, hamburgers, potato fries, cola, warm jackets, blankets, flashlights, fuel and portable telecoms – and slaughtered each other incontinently. Even a slight wound, in the absence of good medicine, would often eventually be fatal. A siege mentality had developed, exacerbated by feuds between relocated city dwellers, toughing it out as survivalists in farming and mountain country. As in London, these people had also figured out how the deadly flu’ was transmitted – and feared any contact with their neighbours. Frightened of disease, guarding and concealing their stores of food and fuel and protecting their families’ lives, the nomadic settlers hid in the most remote houses, farmsteads and commercial buildings they could find – and listened.
And so the population was even more decreased and skills necessary for the maintenance of society became more and more scarce. All major facilities which stopped working – stayed out of commission. When, for example, well away from any sea-level effects, the giant hydro-electric turbines that made electricity for Hartford, Connecticut cut out, as they did on their normal maintenance sequence, only one surviving engineer knew which buttons had to be pressed to switch them on again. But, he found a fault. It was a small fault but it shut down the mill-stream, the sluices through the dam and needed a team of three or four skilled engineers, for eight or ten hours, to correct it. He couldn’t muster a team; he tried to the point of exhaustion to do it himself – and failed. He bussed in his own family and instructed them what to do – but they lacked the physical strength and the engineering know-how. If he could find and direct six or seven strong men – he could fix the problem. But he couldn’t recruit a team and food and self-preservation became more pressing problems he had to attend to – so the generators stayed silent. And so, as in London, the last survivors clung on to the margins of civilisation by foraging and by inventive DiY. A group did, however, take up residence in the Empire State Building and started to tackle the telecommunications, determined to hook into the global satellite network.
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