The Cloud Towers had been built by the rich when the planet started to get much warmer because of global warming.
energy crisis had got much worse, as the world started to run out of
easily recoverable fossil fuels. The idea behind the Cloud Towers
was simple: the rich would live way, way up in the sky. Even if the
power failed, people living in the Cloud Towers would do okay. They
would rely on solar energy for lighting and computer use, and would
simply open their windows if it got too hot. Living way up in the
sky, they would get plenty of breezes that would keep them cool,
along with a good deal of mist from the clouds.
it started to get warmer and warmer on the planet's surface. Some
people living on the ground tried to force their way into the
luxurious and cool apartments of the Cloud Towers. So the people in
the Cloud Towers stocked up on food, and blocked off the stairways
and elevator shafts of the Cloud Towers, so no one could come up and
many years the people in the Cloud Towers lived by themselves. The
people heard of chaos and hardships on the surface of the planet, but
that didn't bother them. They had everything they needed in their
luxurious apartments high up in the sky. Eventually they stopped
receiving television programs. The people in the Cloud Towers no
longer even knew what was happening on the planet's surface, or what
conditions were like on the ground.
one day someone in the Cloud Towers noticed that the stored food was
finally starting to run low.
have only a few months left of food,” said James Arkenstone. “We've
got to do something.”
we can 3D print some more food,” suggested Alice, James'
can we do that?” said James. “We don't have the raw materials for
James came up with a daring plan. With the help of others, he would
clear away the obstacles that had been placed in the stairways of
their Cloud Tower, allowing him to go down to ground level and check
whether the surface of the planet was still habitable.
they finished clearing away the obstacles, James looked down the
stairways of the tower, and saw the path to the bottom was
wants to go with me?” asked James. There were no replies.
a million,” said James sarcastically, and began walking down the
stairs alone. It took him nine hours to walk down the seemingly
endless stairwell. He made it to the lobby of the great tower. The
vacant lobby was in a state of decay, and had been vandalized. He
looked outside, wondering whether he would feel a blast of heat when
he passed through the front doors.
when he got outside, he found the temperature was not too bad. James
went walking around, talking to as many people as he could.
finally found out the truth. The human race had run out of fossil
fuels, or at least all of the fossil fuels that were easy and
economical to extract. Once that had happened, civilization had gone
into a great decline. It was like the fall of the Roman Empire. Many
had died of starvation.
there was one good thing about it: the decline in fossil fuel use had
checked the growth of global warming. The temperatures had finally
finding this out, James returned to his Cloud Tower. He walked all
the way up the stairs. It took him three days to climb up the
seemingly endless flights of stairs.
to his people, James told them of the situation. Life as they had
known it was over, James said. Their stored food had almost run out.
There was only one option left for them, James argued: they must
abandon their luxury apartments in the sky, and return to the surface
of the planet. Then they would have a variety of options: to search
for food, to fish for food, or to grow food themselves.
much debate, most of the people in his Cloud Tower agreed. So they
packed up some of their goods, and got ready to take the long, long
walk down the tower stairs.
took one last look out the window, and for the last time she watched
the clouds drift by at eye level.
my lovely cloud home,” Alice said tearfully. “Goodbye forever.”
more lazy, rarefied 'cloud life' for us,” said James. “From now
on, we're going to be dusty, hustling, hardscrabble creatures of the