(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
On the way into work the following Monday I heard that the seed bank in Norway at Svalbard had been inundated by meltwater. Fortunately it didn’t get into the vault and remedial measures had been taken. This is the doomsday vault they set up to protect the seeds of food plants essentially in the event of a nuclear war or other global catastrophe, so food crops could be grown again. Sadly, the Arctic has had the warmest winter on living record and hence the thaw problem.
I was busy mulling this over when Diane spoke to me as went through her office to get to mine. “I hear you had an interesting weekend?”
“A couple of dormice, yes.”
“And some would be kidnappers.”
“Nah, they’d be too big to fit inside a nest box.” I slipped into my office and wondered how long it would be before she brought me in a cuppa and continued the interrogation. Glancing at the clock I reckoned less than five minutes. The phone rang and I grabbed it, saved by the bell—we’d see.
It was just a colleague with a short query about exam protocols and Diane must have noticed I’d put my phone down—she has a light come up on her phone if I’m using the phone—so knows when I’ve finished. It was tempting to just leave it off the hook and she’d think I was still using it but that way lies madness—she’d go barmy if I made her wait too long for all the gruesome details.
Within two minutes she’d brought in two cups of tea and pulled up a chair and I regaled her with tales of derring-do, minimising my own part as much as possible, then I could say I didn’t know any more because I wasn’t privy to further details. I avoided mentioning Amy’s visit to me the day before. We finally managed to do some work about half an hour later. She’d gone out shaking her head that the security services could insert a plant on the course without any of us knowing. Then she came back saying that the details of this Amy girl were very strange and she’d just turned up in some classes about two weeks ago, apparently suggesting she was studying somewhere else and was moving to the area with her boyfriend and could we accommodate her and could she sit in for the last few weeks of term. There’d been a letter from another university—Cambridge, she thought, and one of the other lecturers had accepted the application. I thought it was very likely that she had studied at Cambridge but a few years ago, she was certainly quite bright.
At lunch we chatted about Svalbard, Diane had heard about it as well but wasn’t sure what it was all about, so I was able to explain it to her, though it made me smile when the spokesperson from Svalbard suggested that the Norwegian government was charged with taking care of the seeds for eternity—that isn’t going to happen, nor anything like it. The way things are going, mankind may well be extinct in a few hundred years if not sooner helped by their stupidity and greed.
People are still denying climate change, including one orange skinned person in a large house somewhere across the pond. The Svalbard incident shows how quickly things are changing and they suggest possibly four or five degrees increase in temperatures in the UK by 2080. This will apply to mainly the south of the country but even the Highlands and Islands will also warm a couple of degrees. There could well be droughts in the summer and floods in the winter accompanied by gale force winds. People in cities will die because you get hot spots in the urban environment which they call urban heat islands, where temperatures can be quite a bit warmer and vulnerable people die from heat exhaustion or dehydration. These are usually elderly or very young individuals as their temperature regulation is either impaired or not developed. In 2003, 2000 people died in England and Wales and 20,000 died in France, mainly in Paris. It was an exceptionally warm summer especially in June and August for Northern Europe.
The climate change experts suggest that from 2040 such events will possibly seem to be relatively benign as temperatures will rise even more and unless governments are geared up to deal with it, many more people will die from extreme weather conditions. In the United Kingdom, the government set up an agency called UKCIP, which looks like the loony party previously run by Nigel Farage, but is in fact The United Kingdom Climate Impact Programme, who are embedded at Oxford University and who advise local government and industry on dealing with extreme weather and adapting to it as opposed to the Environment Agency who deal with the nitty gritty such as flooding or coastal erosion and whose budget the government recently reduced, a bit like the US only we did it first.
Diane’s eyes grew wider as I explained what seemed to be happening around the world. “Things are getting worse so they cut the budget?” she asked.
“You seem surprised.”
“Are they stupid?”
“Possibly but I’d guess it was more cynicism, they don’t care because they’ll be all right. It’s a bit like Brexit, they haven’t a clue what they’re doing there either, neither does Europe, so it should get really interesting and it’s only poor people who’ll suffer, so what do they care, the elite I mean.”
“But you’re one of the elite?”
“No, I married one of the wealthy neither of us are elite...”
“Just stinking rich.” She smirked as she said this.
“If it makes you feel better, yeah.”
“You’ll survive whatever happens, won’t you?”
“Possibly if Trish can come up with a solution to sort the climate and invent a means of nuclear fusion so we have loads of cheap energy without the pollution.”
“You mean she hasn’t already?”
“No, Simon won’t pay for a reactor in the garden.”
“Mean ol’ Simon,” she snorted then lost it completely and roared with laughter. It became a little embarrassing as other staff turned and looked at us. “Oops, perhaps we’d better go unless you can do karaoke?”
“If I told you that sometimes the only way I can get the girls to go to sleep is to threaten to sing them a lullaby, I think you’ll understand if I say no.”
We made what they term a tactical withdrawal in military circles, which doesn’t mean going round in circles, just straight out the door of the staff restaurant. Once we were a safe distance clear Diane began laughing again. “Did you see them looking at me? I felt like shouting out, hey, waddya lookin’ at?”
“So why didn’t you?”
“I thought it might embarrass you.” For one second she looked quite serious then she lost it again and so did I. Thank goodness there was no one else around as we escaped into our offices, they’d have sent for the men in white coats and I don’t mean lab technicians.
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