Managed Retreat II.


The War Against Climate Change.

End of Century climate, transport.

Read-through version 4.3
Managed Retreat II
ecosystem science, normality, climate change, managed retreat.

Placard: YEAR: 2099. In a storm bunker. There is minimal electric lighting.

TAMARA and SUNITA at corner of stage, or in front of curtain, or in opera-box, as previously. FOGEY and LIEUTENANT, wearing civilian attire and conspicuous press passes with identification photo, are already seated apart among audience, either at the front, or in an opera box, where they can face the audience, preferably on opposite sides of the auditorium.

(SUNITA and TAMARA, barely visible in the darkness.)

(To audience in bunker: directly to audience)

Listen up, everyone. Tamara is going to talk to us about life in the refuge.

Hi there. My name is Tamara, and I've travelled here, sometimes on foot, from the refuge.

Some parts of our homeland are fully tropical now, but in refuge area it's sometimes cooler, subtropical, and we've so far managed to keep parts of the old industrial lifestyle intact.

One of the keys to our success has been the hydroelectric dams: they are still going and providing electricity for about six or seven hours per day across a network that extends across and up and down the plains, and it provides power for the north-south railway which everybody uses down there.

This means we can move food and supplies from the farms into the settlements, and support some workshops, like blacksmiths, farriers, and carpenters.

Isn't it difficult to maintain the railway?

Yes, but a new railway track is being laid further inland to guard against inevitable flooding, washouts, bridge collapses, and sea-rises. Much of this hard construction work must be done by hand now.

Who does that, then?

Yes. Nearly half the population now work on small farms, doing manual labour. And some on the railways. Thanks to the Great Resettlement from the twenty-fifties, when around three million climate refugees were brought in from overseas, the population of our homeland is now about fifty percent higher, with two thirds located in the refuge, mostly climate chaos refugees.

(THUNDERCLAP! No reaction from actors.)

Excuse me, Tamara, what's the latest situation with our nearest neighbours?

There's no news from overseas, not even radio signals, Sunita. All telephone contact's been lost: so now no-one knows what's happened in neighbouring countries.

I'm not surprised. All my life, people have talked of ongoing droughts, heat waves, and floods there, and waves and waves of climate refugees swamping the landscape there.

Yes, Sunita, and even in this tropical part of our homeland, where we are now, trains no longer run the length of the main trunk railway. Track and bridge maintenance is just too demanding, and we don't have the manpower and materials and electric-powered equipment. It's always the same: bridges are down, embankments washed away, valleys are flooded, and so on.

And the roads?

The same applies to the roads. It's taken us two months to travel up here, by rail-buggie, cart, and on foot. There're stretches of railroad that are still intact, but getting past the gaps is very time-consuming.

What about the weather in the refuge, Tamara?

(speaks directly to audience)

Yes. The climate is very different to what it used to be. The main difference is that the weather is so much more variable, and unpredictable. And wind strengths are higher, and storms more severe. Summer daytime temperatures of over forty degrees Celsius are encountered some days each year. Most years, there is a summer drought too.

Any electric cars?

For over two decades now, no new batteries for electric vehicles have been available, so the number of roadworthy vehicles has dwindled. Those that remain are reserved for emergency services only. Tyres have long gone, as we have not succeeded in growing rubber trees. The remaining vehicles run on cartwheels, which are within our manufacturing capability. The alternative power source, hydrogen, can be manufactured cleanly by electrolysis. However, storing hydrogen with our limited technology has proved problematic, and we've given up on it for the time being. Instead, we use miniature ponies and small carts, though.

And farming?

Farming's changed completely. Although electricity is available, tractors for farming are useless, as all the old batteries are now used to store power to cover the outages, and new batteries can neither be manufactured, nor imported. There are no exports at all, of course. There's very little irrigation. Cattle numbers are less than a tenth of what they used to be some decades ago, and the main breeds now are miniature breeds: they do better in the heat.

What about communities?

Communities have their own gardens and allotments and people grow their own vegetables, not just rhubarb and silver-beet, but a wide variety. Like you, we experiment with date palms and other plants, but the storms and droughts are an ongoing problem.

If anyone wishes to move to the refuge, they'll be welcome. However, because of the broken railway system, people can only bring what they can carry themselves.

(TAMARA turns to SUNITA)