This post is part of the Visions of the Future bloggers network – a group of bloggers inspired by the new TV series Continuum. The one hour police drama tells the story of Kiera Cameron, a regular cop from 65 years in the future who finds herself trapped in present day Vancouver with eight of the most ruthless criminals from the future, known as Liber8, loose in the city. In the collection of blog posts, various writers share their vision of the future and how they would deal with the challenges. Head over to the Continuum website to catch the other posts and learn more about the series.
Time: February, 2077
After years as a planter/gatherer, you wouldn’t think that my hands would hurt as they do now. My calluses are just that much softer after the winter that blisters had formed by mid-day and I was forced to slow down. Planting season is well underway and we are all toiling with equal diligence. I can see that I’m not the only one suffering but we all know that, by the end of the week, our skin will have hardened and our efficiency will be back to normal. We have to be efficient. The community is counting on us. So, I continue to till the black earth and try, with every ounce of my will, to ignore the pain. I turn my thoughts to history, the days when machines manipulated the earth and belched out large plumes of smoke. I think they must have been mighty machines, them and all the fossil-fuel fed vehicles, to have affected the earth the way they did. Their time was short-lived but perhaps not short enough. Before the machines, people worked as we do now but back then Canadian America was such a large and mostly empty place, the toilers must have been so solitary and lonely.
We are 150,000 strong in our community and are part of a larger pod of a million people. Pods are what used to be known as cities in the days of the machines but their structures are completely different. Each pod is made up of a network of communities which are essentially self-sufficient but can also trade with one another if one community excels in a particular product. Our community happens to champion woolens and natural textiles mainly because of the significant number of textile experts who settled with us. They came from places that were known as Sri Lanka and India before the great global migration and dismantling of unsustainable lands. The wars there still rage on. They still rage everywhere. Over what, I’m not sure. Most of the old nations are desolate and unlivable but humans never seem to lose their desire to control lands – even ones that cannot support life at all. Training grounds they say. Testing grounds for new science and artificial life. Who will be the first to regenerate the wastelands? Who can claim that they are the new demigods and champions of the global community?
As far as I can see, most of the global community is here in Canadian America and in some of the other northern countries that remain above sea level. Immigration camps line our border with the American Deserts and along our sea walls. Permeation of the immigration filter can take years and semi-permanent pods have budded from collections of camps. The government could no longer avoid the influx of people but slowed it down long enough to allow the restructure of society and the development of complex systems to monitor the consumption and renewal of resources. Luckily, during the days of the machines, some scientists and planners had foreseen what chaos may ensue if precautions were not taken to reverse the warming of the world. They were the pioneers of the reinstatement of communities, true communities that many laughed off as being too utopian, too idealistic. But in a world where your only choices are survival or death, those who did not take up arms were willing to embrace the hardships, the endless toiling, and the return to the earth. This, in exchange for a life where that which is required to live is either worked for or provided by the cooperation of communities.
As the sun sets on another day, I walk my aching body back toward the pod, the concrete gravel road stings my feet right through my shoes as if the soles were made of paper. I watch half-heartedly as the numerous planters still in the fields and silhouetted against the golden horizon, bend and raise their bodies laboriously. Sometimes I fantasize about the rebel’s life which seems free from the endless toiling. Most citizens are hard workers but some, the members and followers of the Free Right, aspire to bring back the days of what they call “prosperity”. But the reality is that that type of prosperity, capitalism, disappeared years ago. There is nothing left to sustain it. A new system of Cooperatism, based on a model developed around the turn of the century in what used to be called Spain before the great drought, drives our economy. Trade is based on equivalency. No person, or product can be above another. In the years during the development of today’s Cooperatism, some believed the system would relieve the pods of classism, competition, and jealousy, and, for the most part, it did. But it was replaced by tension and resentment especially in the ranks of the Free Right. Widespread rebellions erupted against a perceived oppression but were quickly quashed by the government and the New Law Enforcers. Perhaps our way of life does seem oppressed but when one takes the state of the entire world into account, the large pockets of poverty and starvation, the streams of migration of displaced people, our system of work and cooperation seems freer and more comfortable than anything that existed before or exists elsewhere. It has afforded us a freedom never widely available before: freedom from want.
I open the door to my room in the Centiplex, a network of high density dwellings, and find my mother and her friend Mariella. Mariella is a healer and she is there to wash and bind my mother’s feet and hands. She will do mine, as well as my brothers and sisters who will require her tender care. Sousa, our neighbour and one of the community cooks, has prepared us a simple meal which is laid upon the kitchen table. Despite my exhaustion, I manage a smile. I find the way people use their individual talents and knowledge to help one another very comforting, even on this small scale. Outside our balcony the chatter of workers, coming and going at the beginning or ending of shifts, fills the night air with a liveliness that permeates all of our rooms and our lives. The constant sounds of activities and industriousness reminds us of ourselves and who we are working for. My blistered hands still ache beneath Mariella’s bandages but my determination to do my part for my community keeps me strong and will urge me into the fields once again tomorrow.
Dyer, Gwynne. Climate Wars, Random House Canada.2008
Timothy Ferris. “Solar Storms.” National Geographic Magazine June 2012
Richard Wolff. “Yes, there is an alternative to capitalism: Mondragon shows the way.” The Guardian June 24, 2012.