Earth Overshoot Day – an uncomfortable prediction

Five years ago I wrote this in my book “The Vandervelde Documents” and I am posting it here as my contribution to “Earth Overshoot Day.”

“Let’s go back to the Autumn of 2020. It was bad enough in 2018 with the terrible winter: half of northern Europe froze for 6 weeks. Things eased off in April and it seemed at last Spring was coming but then the frost returned in May and the birds were dying in their nests. When it finally came in June the summer was warm, but it was too late by then for many of the crops. To everyone’s relief the following winter was quite mild and spring came early. Out came all the barbecues and summer dresses and we all relaxed. June was hot right across Europe, and there were ominous signals from America of what was to come. The heatwave in the Rockies broke all records and killed millions of birds and animals, but that was over there. Here, in Berlin hot summers were quite normal, but then July came and still the temperatures were rising. By the end of the month all records had been broken in every European country except the far north where they were below average. The emergency wards were full of heatstroke victims. August was slightly cooler but by then the water had run out. Every hotel in northern Caledonia, Scandinavia, arctic Russia, Alaska, and Canada was full and we even saw refugee camps being set up.”

The book was a crazy project – using fiction to work out ideas about the future which I had been brewing for many years. There is a lot in it I would now cut, but some of the ideas are still sound, and some of it reads well. I looked at what the future would be like if we really had the political will to de-carbonise. Democracy has failed us so I imagined a different system – a world in which elected governments handed the real power to a benevolent quango led by a sort of Time Lord: Vandervelde.  This idealised “Green” future nearly works, but there just aren’t enough sustainable resources and the entire world economy tanks, leading to a dramatic cut in the human population. The survivors then have another chance.

I’m now less optimistic. I completely failed to see the rebirth of the populist right, and catastrophic global warming now looks closer than ever. 

I still have a few copies of the paperback for sale here: Who knows they might become collectors’ items!

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