Header 1

Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cloud Towers: A Science Fiction Story

The Cloud Towers had been built by the rich when the planet started to get much warmer because of global warming.

The 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.

towers in clouds

Eventually 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 bother them.

For 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.

But one day someone in the Cloud Towers noticed that the stored food was finally starting to run low.

We have only a few months left of food,” said James Arkenstone. “We've got to do something.”

Maybe we can 3D print some more food,” suggested Alice, James' girlfriend.

How can we do that?” said James. “We don't have the raw materials for that.”

Eventually 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.

When they finished clearing away the obstacles, James looked down the stairways of the tower, and saw the path to the bottom was unobstructed.

Who wants to go with me?” asked James. There were no replies.

Thanks 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.

But when he got outside, he found the temperature was not too bad. James went walking around, talking to as many people as he could.

James 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.

But there was one good thing about it: the decline in fossil fuel use had checked the growth of global warming. The temperatures had finally stabilized.

After 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.

Returning 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.

After 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.

Alice took one last look out the window, and for the last time she watched the clouds drift by at eye level.

Goodbye, my lovely cloud home,” Alice said tearfully. “Goodbye forever.”

No more lazy, rarefied 'cloud life' for us,” said James. “From now on, we're going to be dusty, hustling, hardscrabble creatures of the ground.”