Thursday, July 25, 2019


More than three weeks into execution of the global strategy, the signs of the transition are more organizational than physical, though we expect that to change rapidly soon. The local division of the Extinction Response Unit just released a set of “subregion” maps for our region that are aligned with the latest projections of climate and ecosystem adaptations. Not surprisingly, their boundaries roughly coincide with the distribution of biomes WICO anticipated for the transition midpoint.

Maura has been back at work, sort of, performing a survey of our closest former test community, TC-013, from a historical perspective, while I do related research in our office. We’ll be in a new subregion when we move close to the university, which is shared by most of the mountains and subject to a different set of conditions for land management and basic survival that TC-013 was instrumental in identifying. This brought up a new direction of research, which I discussed with Maura last night: tracking cultural evolution as a function of subregion definition and mandated resettlement. She initially considered it too large a change in scope, but agreed to think more about it.

“That’s just bureaucratic BS,” Al said when he heard the news. “Nothin’s gonna change except what people call it. Adaptation’s the way of the world now, and everyone’s gotta be ready for anythin’.” He pointed to a weather map on the cafeteria television as we ate lunch. A stationary high-pressure system was baking the Midwest, with a long hot finger reaching as far west as the Rocky Mountain foothills. “That thing don’t care ‘bout ecosystems, and neither will the tornados that swing through next week. We’re just gonna have to ride ‘em out wherever we are until our itty-bitty changes amount to somethin’ big enough.”

“Are you kidding me, Al?” Significant changes between the plains and the mountains were a given for as long as I’d lived here. 

He sniffed, then snorted. “Smell that smoke, Will? This place is on its way to becomin’ a desert thanks to the oven we made, and the best way to shut off an oven is to cut the power. We’re doin’ it in a lot of little ways; and ‘til it works we’re all gonna be just hunkerin’ down wherever we are, which is a great way to cut some more power.”

“But isn’t where you are going to affect how you do it?” I asked the obvious question.

“How many ways do I gotta say it? A forest can become a desert in a week, and it may not have enough time to grow back. If you can live in both, then you got a chance at survivin’.”

“So, you’re saying the subregion rules are meaningless, along with what was learned in the test communities?”

“No. I’m saying we all gotta learn all of it, rules and the reasons behind ‘em.” He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “I thought you had this all figgered out already.”

“The ERU’s doing that coordination thing you always like, setting expectations and rules to match.”

“Point taken,” he said, leaning back. “We swapped places, didn’t we?”

“Looks that way, and it feels weird. What changed?”

He paused. “Perspective, I’d say. You got into history and how people organize life. I got into physics, the why of it all.”

It wasn’t just our new jobs. “Tell me about it,” I suggested.

Reality Check

Al’s new point of view is based on my own concept that rapid changes require flexible thinking and abilities that match the range of changes. The discussion of climate and ecosystems is based on my own observations and knowledge, not a rigorous scientific analysis.

See today’s entry in Will Jackson’s Personal Log for more about the project being worked on by Will and Maura.

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