Chapter 33: Did you actually believe our carbon dioxide didn’t cause the heating?
The earth itself is in need of transformation; we need to learn to adapt to a new earth because the old earth is passing away. Churned out by the collective unconscious, the vision is a map of our global near-death and inner transformation. It is also a response to a life-threatening situation. The species, not just the individual, is on the threshold of near-death. Indeed, all species of life are threatened; hence, catastrophe is pictured in geologic imagery. Person and planet are at risk…”
Michael Grosso: The Final Choice, 1985
About the year 2115, everywhere around the globe, ocean waters continue expanding from absorbed heat…
Let us now with reasonable logic project from very certain existing trends, documented well beyond any slightest doubt, to a future scenario over the next three hundred years. A mere three hundred years – the same brief slice of time as the industrial revolution from which we’re just now emerging.
We begin with acknowledgement that everywhere around the earth the oceans are now warming, expanding and rising, their salinity declining from the freshwater input, their acidity increasing as chemical runoff and absorbed carbon dioxide conspire to make carbonic acid, which kills shellfish. These trends are fully documented by science and grow more exact by the month. Because of the rising ocean levels, several small low-lying island nations in the Pacific and Indian oceans are quite publicly planning for removal of their populations to higher ground before 2050. In the meantime they are at increasing risk from increasingly higher storm surges that increasingly severe typhoons may send their way. In all its many ramifications, the entire global warming trend is best described by the word “increasing.”
Worldwide fishing industries in contrast are making no plans to stop harvesting the fish and shellfish their income depends on. As whole species fall victim to the increasing acidity and increasing depletion from overfishing and disappear, gone forever extinct, the fisherman switch their nets increasingly to whatever species remain that are good enough to eat. In this, they are responding logically to the increasing demands of new hungry mouths to feed because of the rapidly increasing world population.
A century from now, about 2115, everywhere around the globe, ocean waters continue expanding from absorbed heat, further increasing the rise already caused by melting glaciers. Both rise and expansion are well understood to be happening because of heating induced by CO2 we humans dumped into the world atmosphere over recent centuries. Iceland’s mighty Vatnajokull glacier and America’s Glacier National Park are no more. Worldwide most of the other glaciers are gone. Those remaining melt faster every year, cubic miles of their precious fresh water draining daily down into the briny seas.
Few people understood how serious, how consequential, was sea level rise of a mere few millimeters when multiplied by that three-quarters of the earth’s surface which is oceans. Fewer still understood the danger in those millimeters. By 2115 a century’s accumulated sea level rise is measured not in millimeters or inches but in feet and meters. In 2115 Earth’s atmosphere and all her oceans are, on average, several degrees warmer than a century ago. Even if past leaders had somehow summoned the will to seriously reduce CO2 emissions early enough – alas they did not – a delayed reaction would still occur. Even when the CO2 pollution stopped – as inevitably it would, one way or another – the greenhouse heat would continue rising for decades before it finally peaked, held and, some future day, started slowly back down. By 2115 that course has been certain for 140 years.
The oceans’ rise is between three and seven feet, depending where on earth you measure. The world’s oceans don’t all rise the same amount at the same time. They slosh around, pile up in places. The influx of so very much new melt water has severely changed the old ocean currents, the dynamics of erosion, the way storm surges have their impact on every mile of coastline around the world. Huge old cities on all coasts are abandoned or being abandoned. New Orleans was among the first of them as the rising Gulf of Mexico encroached onto our southern coast. Progressively submerging the delta and its coastal flanks, salty waters extend ever more northward up the lower Mississippi basin.
Some rogue nations actually still burned coal, natural gas and oil to produce power and drive vehicles as recently as 2075, only forty years ago. Their CO2 hangs around. Added to what our great-grandparents put up there, it will be with us a long, long time yet.
The atmosphere grows yet warmer, every year. Surviving ice, melting even faster, prominently includes the giants on the Himalayas, Greenland, Antarctica. When they go, sea-level consequences will be so awful we cannot imagine it. We know only that the additional rise will be measured not in tens of feet, but in hundreds.
Those old political ideologues who failed to act, whose inaction and even opposition to action caused this world catastrophe, are all dead and forgotten.
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During my [near-death] experience…I was also shown events that are likely to happen in the near future, but was made to understand that nothing is absolutely fixed and that everything depends on how we choose to use our own free will, that even those events that are already predestined can be changed or modified by a change in our own way of relating to them.
Margot Grey: Return From Death, 1985
Another century passes. In 2215, the first quarter of the 23rd century, the much warmed Gulf waters are still expanding, still rising. No longer does a great Mississippi delta reach out into the Gulf. A broad new estuary, a wide-mouthed southern version of old Chesapeake Bay, has drowned the delta along with the nation’s entire central underbelly. Salt water now extends more than two hundred miles up the Mississippi basin, spreading miles on each side beyond the old banks. Hundreds of square miles of the flat once-fertile farmlands along both sides of the old river channel are long submerged. Out on the edges new wetlands expand farther east and west every year, salt water saturation ruining the ground for farming despite the big river’s massive fresh water flow down the center.
Water is very heavy, as known by anyone who ever hefted a five-gallon bucket of it. Year by year, the expanding lower Mississippi estuary has added enormous new weight atop the lower reaches of the New Madrid seismic zone. The overburden pressure of this colossal new water-weight laying heavy upon the land extends an additional two hundred miles west, east…and north. And so inevitably, in a manner not altogether unlike the small earth tremors which occur beneath the weight of large glaciers, the increasing weight of water in the estuary’s northern reaches eventually becomes so heavy that it triggers an earthquake near the zone’s southern end.
In late autumn of 2215, the weakest southern section in the New Madrid aulacogen breaks and shatters, suddenly, without warning.
New Madrid residents could not have seen it coming. As in 1811, the quake once again is quite large – say 7.3 magnitude – and it does something completely unexpected. Here at mid-continent there is no slipping sideways, in the usual way of San Andreas quakes. Sideways is not possible. The mid-continental plates are too massive, the old cratons too thick and too strong. Like super concrete blocks made of granite, they surround and block any significant lateral movement within the tightly packed fault zone. The zone can only break and crumble, and so it does. The earthquake’s release of massive earth pressure forces the overlying crust to choose one of the only two options available to it – up or down. By geological chance, the crust submerges – crumbling as it goes. Everything on its surface crumbles and submerges along with it.
This is not unprecedented. In ancient days movement of California’s San Andreas fault caused a huge chunk of land, the Salton Sea Trough, to drop below sea level where it remains today. Similarly, this newly fractured southern block of the New Madrid seismic zone, some six hundred square miles in area (that’s only thirty miles north-south, only twenty east-west), settles deeper, severely breaking up into smaller chunks as it descends. Gigantic deep crevasses hundreds of feet long open wide, then close, across what were moments ago ordinary corn and wheat fields. And small town Americana. The affected land doesn’t submerge very far, perhaps only tens of feet here, a hundred or more there, but that is enough. The estuary’s massive waters rush in to cover the new low places, its vast weight pushing them still farther down.
In less than two hours, many cubic miles of heavy salt water from the Mississippi estuary have advanced northward in an almighty swoosh not seen on earth since the waters of the Mediterranean broke through and filled the Black Sea basin – which, incidentally, formed in ages past by subsidence due to massive compression at the junction of tectonic plates. Also coincidentally, that old Black Sea deluge almost certainly is the true origin of the persistent legend now known – and widely doubted by professional skeptics who profitably promote their own notoriety by in-your-face doubt – as the Biblical Flood.
Collapse of the southern New Madrid seismic zone is a trigger. Under the suddenly-added new weight of so much water, plus the great Father of Waters flowing massively backward again for the first time in a long time, the remainder of the zone shortly collapses, and the waters rush northward again. Up into Huck Finn country, and beyond. Their massive new weight now presses on the southern end of the adjacent Wabash seismic zone.
Already stressed and destabilized by the big quake, the Wabash zone too soon collapses, and the waters rush in. The process repeats, northward, then repeats again, and then again. Within a short time – let’s say by exactly 2:15am on December 16, 2215 – four hundred and four years since the last New Madrid great quake – the entire New Madrid-Wabash Valley-Midcontinental Rift-Great Lakes system is in a state of collapse from one end to the other.
By no means does the complex succumb quickly – the stages of advancing collapse northward are distinct. As each great chunk of the complex rift system gives way, hundreds more square miles of the surface fracture, break and crumble until, now more compact, they settle lower down into the earth’s crust. They are covered as the waters rush in, filling each new lowland as soon as it develops. Then within hours, a few days at most, the enormous added weight collapses the next segment northward. With the New Madrid segments submerged, the cataclysm advances on into the Wabash Valley and southern Indiana hills become islands. When the Wabash segments have all collapsed and drowned, up beyond Chicago and encompassing much of Lake Michigan, the Midcontinental Rift follows in turn, and then the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone – and the beloved lakes’ familiar outlines are changed forever.
In eastern Canada, running from Lake Huron up through Quebec and on into Labrador, is an old geologic feature known as the Grenville Front. The front is but one segment of a much longer scar on the earth’s surface. Little known to anyone other than geologists, this very ancient line known as the Grenville Orogenic Belt represents what has been called perhaps the most dramatic collision of continent-sized tectonic plates in the history of planet earth. Extending in linear fashion with few zigs or zags from southwest to northeast, Grenville has been studied and mapped from Mexico through Texas, across the American heartland to Eastern Michigan, Lake Huron and Ontario on up to Labrador, and thence across the north Atlantic past Scotland and into northern Scandinavia. In North America, associated outliers reach far underneath Appalachia and over into east Greenland. The “Front” segment located just east and northeast of the great lakes is considerably fractured and the underlying earth crust is thinner than elsewhere.
Piece by piece the collapse advances until failure of the Great Lakes zone brings this new North American rift into contact with the Grenville Front. With accumulated momentum, it is no contest. Even the Canadian Shield’s hard old igneous pre-Cambrian rock cannot stop the cascade from advancing through the Shield’s narrow waist just north of Lake Superior and on into Hudson Bay. The chain collapse of such a massive interconnected rift system is beyond any conceivable precedent, beyond human imaginations. Such massive earthquakes have never been seen or heard of since humans began recording their history. That ancient Noah’s-flood story is displaced by this all-too-real New Flood.
The Great North American Rift Valley has been born, and it will endure for millions of years. Unlike northeast Africa’s Great Rift Valley, this one is filled with ocean water.
Accompanying the calamity, other unexpected phenomena play out. To the southwest, much of the eastern half of Texas collapses and drowns even before the Wabash collapse and advancing waters have completed their northward progression. Speculations after the fact focus on super-porous geology – this large region, though outside the fault zone, succumbed because of widespread weakening of the rock substrata by so many decades of hydraulic fracturing, making east Texas perhaps the most fracked place on earth.
In today’s economic reality, whether wastewater injection should continue is off the table. Researchers at Stanford University have mapped the natural geologic stresses throughout Oklahoma and Texas and discovered that… faults oriented in a certain direction, relative to natural tectonic stresses in the ground, are the ones most primed to become active. Faults that are critically stressed – that is, under enough natural force coming from just the right directions – may require a surprisingly small amount of additional force to rupture. That pressure can be as little as a few pounds per square inch.
Man-Made Solutions for Man-Made Quakes. Scientific American, January 2017
In times past, desirous of countering widespread criticism of fracking, spokesmen for the old natural gas and oil industries long insisted that fracking had been routinely applied since the 1960s to ninety percent of the hundreds of wells in the region. And they were quite right. Contrary to their rationalizations, however, the massive fracturing of so very much subterranean rock over so many decades, up to depths of two miles and that much more laterally across eastern Texas, in combination with the colossal growing weight of water in the adjacent Mississippi estuary, is credited with causing the east Texas collapse. In 2215 neither the industry nor its lobbyists and sycophants are alive to face survivors.
At length, the waters cover the North American aulacogen and much more. The collapse has taken but a few short weeks to complete. Aftershocks continue for twenty five years, a very brief instant geologically. A new generation of human descendants does not care whether fracking or warmed seas caused this fast evolution of North American topography. Very soon their children are forgetting that it evolved at all. And in any case, for many years from 2215 on, human attention is preoccupied with adapting to the old nation’s division by this expansive new “inland” sea – which isn’t really inland at all, as it now is the aquatic divide between the two stringbean continents that used to be the east and west portions of that old North America. A surviving U.S. government, no longer situated in swampy, fast submerging Washington, pragmatically adapts its governance over remaining lands between the new sea and the Atlantic coast.
And to the west, to no one’s surprise, California leads a coalition of state and provincial governments in establishing hegemony over the great landmass between the Pacific coast and the new sea’s western shore. From Alaska southward, the Canadian provinces, western states and much of Mexico presently join the coalition, all designing their new nationhood. Their new joint constitution will have surprisingly few changes from that of the much reduced United States (the late Electoral College being a prominent exception). With both descendant nations still in survival mode, there is surprisingly little political argument over these practical responses to the new geographic exigencies. Eastern Canada quickly evolves into the new nation called Quebec. Most amazing of all, these changes occur without armed conflict, except for two former residents of western Kentucky, one of whom kills the other and seizes the fertile farmland both had claimed atop scenic bluffs overlooking the new coastline.
In perspective of geologic time, these changes are fast evolution indeed. But by around 2250 – less than two human generations later – all has settled down and become the new normal. The great Father of Waters called Mississippi is a legend to the young, who will never experience it. Their very real experience is of blue ocean waters that lay calmly over a vast stretch of the former central plains northward as far as Saskatchewan and Alberta, far on up into Manitoba and Ontario. Above drowned Minneapolis-St. Paul, over the drowned Red River, across Lake Winnepeg and up the old Nelson River valley, the new waters flow freely from the old Gulf of Mexico into old Hudson Bay. From the sea’s equatorial south, warmed currents flow northward and change both climate and agriculture clear to the Arctic Circle. Ocean currents are permanently changed around the world. Though global warming has caused disruptions across the earth, none equals the changes in North America. Its surviving parts come to be called “the twin continents.”
As if in recompense, climate in the Americas eventually becomes generally mild and pleasant around the new sea. This sea isn’t terribly deep by world standards, but the old Gateway Arch, if it still stood, would no longer be visible. In the way of ever-evolving human language, people call it M’sippisea – an old Indian word, the children tell younger siblings, and theirs is the historical memory which will endure. Despite the horrendous changes it once wrought on that segment of humanity known as Americans, few adults and no children at all perceive it as merely the most recent – coincidentally rapid – development in the long evolution of earth and life on earth. It just is.
Thus in twain divided forever that lost old America land, the very earth itself acting out in affirmation that terrible dividing which began in the hateful mindsets of men when they sought to divide and conquer, to prevail and control regardless of cost to fellowship and feeling of community, to gather in to themselves all the wealth and all the power over others, over their fellow humanity, when they cleaved, yes, when with uncaring and selfish denial of their brothership and sistership, they despised each the other and ignored in wanton abandonment the unconditional endless love in which God’s evolution had fashioned them and their very inner selves from his love which also made Sun and World.
Harmon Elmr Bland Lightday, History Keeper
By 2315, three hundred years hence, M’sippisea has been an accepted feature of life in the twin North Americas for a century. People born after the cataclysm have no memory of those violent birthing days, and the most senior elders who did remember have long since died away. Now there are new elders, and they live a lifestyle far different than that of their recent ancestors. Like those pre-Columbian native Americans and their living descendants, these new elders are close to nature, knowing themselves integral with it.
From birth The People are naturally adapted to the natural rhythms of natural systems. They understand themselves at one with nature, because the natural earth which sustains them is one of the endless manifestations of God and God is everything so nature is also everything on earth, including themselves. Natural stewardship of plant life and animals is the cultural norm, and especially loving care is taken of those beasts which provide so much of the working power in their scattered communities, such necessary augmentation of their manmade technological power. The people and animals exist in respectful symbiosis with the natural world, and God indeed is everywhere.
Around the sea’s edges, the surface rifts and gullies left by The Great Quake have mostly filled or turned to stream beds. The new generations know only that M’sippisea has always been there, remembered since their childhood, beloved for its inviting beautiful blue waters in which to swim, fish, go sailing and be joyful in their robust health and wellbeing. That’s how M’sippisea felt in my dream.
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