Greenspace

 GREENSPACE

BY

Keith DeHavelle

 

IN SPACE, no one can hear you’re green. It’s a pity.

Caesar turned slowly, arms outstretched to catch the sun. In the middle distance, I could see Hamlet doing the same thing. A moment later, Fortinbras began to turn. Yes, they’re all named for dead people — they’re all shades.

Lots of shades up here. We’re helping to cool the planet. The temperature has stayed stable since the turn of the 21st century, and we’re all frightened out of our wits since we know that the really serious problems are due at any time.

I’m stuck up here, doing my best to do the right green thing, but I’m all by myself. There’s no one around to see how noble I’ve become now that we have these overgrown parasols in place.

And it’s not like I’ve got a tough job, though I’ve been up here for a month now. Le Mirior and Kagami at least have to aim. I can just barely make them out as they reflect down at the South Atlantic phyto farms. The increased sunlight and iron particles have caused the plankton to really take off this year. The bloom is visible from here.

The carbon dioxide was not even 400 parts per million as we rolled through the year 2000. Now it’s hovering steady at around 550, and the greater plant growth seems to be absorbing everything we can throw at it. Crops are growing abundantly, and the trees are springing up faster than ever. But we know it’s unstable. We know that the terrible catastrophe is just around the corner.

The only answer is Science. So we were finally able to get these giant-but-lightweight disks up, with these little tiny pods that pass as home. It’s worth it, just to save the planet.

And it was worthwhile to have governments combining, and taking over the businesses. It was capitalism that caused us to grow so populous and have such an affluent and unnatural and comfortable lifestyle anyway. We’re better off rid of it.

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Hmm. I’m worried. It’s not that I can’t go back — I got used to that idea years ago; I’d never be able to hack gravity again. It’s just the news; it’s getting weirder and weirder.

I don’t understand it. The new world government saved the Earth! We solved the problem of carbon dioxide, and we did it before the huge 550 parts per million of that toxic gas had any bad effects. We knew they were just about to clobber us, and in the decades it took us to deal with them we were apparently just in time. Sure, it’s been fashionable to blame being late for work on global warming as they used to call it – the poor uneducated folks who don’t understand the intricacies of climate change.

And it was obvious that the climate was just about to change. No matter which way it went, it was going to be bad.

But in the last five years, carbon dioxide has dropped below 400 again. In another five it will be below 300 and we will have truly saved the planet from a terrible catastrophe.

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I’ve been lucky; I’ve been able to stay up here. No one else has done ten years on a shade. But now they’re reluctant to talk to me. The doctor came by about ten orbits ago — yesterday, as I used to think about it — and he’s telling me strange tales about the crops. The CO2 is nearly down to 200 now, and it’s the natural state of things. The weather should be much better now, not that it was actually bad before. But … crops growing too slowly to feed everyone? Some plants dying out? I don’t understand it.

Sure there were lots of people down there – heck, we’ve got so much stuff in orbit that I’d think we’ve got lots of people up here, but most of these are just satellites. But feeding them from extra plant growth caused by the CO2 couldn’t have been right. It wasn’t natural!

We’ve finally hit the 22nd century, and for the first time in hundreds of years we’ve got a natural level of carbon dioxide. How can this be a problem?

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Well, it’s been interesting to watch, anyway. The space liners they’re building are so big that I can see them from up here. No one can live outside anymore — since the plants mostly died from lack of CO2, the oxygen levels won’t support animals any more either.

I hate to say it, but it seems we did this to ourselves. Everybody’s just dumping all the trash outside, from what I hear, because they’re all leaving soon. Or at least the ones that can, are.

Not me. I can’t come back. And I can’t even join one of the new ships in space — they’ve got the new artificial gravity now, and that’ll kill me just as quickly as the dying atmosphere on the ground.

I guess I’m stuck here. There are thousands — millions? — of satellites around me, and they’re being kept in place by robots that move around and keep them boosted. Science got them up here, and science is keeping them in place, just as it’s keeping those poor folks alive on the frigid ground for the moment. It seems that I can hardly see through these satellites, they’re so closely packed. I wonder how long that’s going to last?

And I wonder how long I’m going to last. Am I doomed to be the last surviving human left behind?

Am I to be the last employee of Buy n Large?

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