The Gift 4/9/19

By Richard Bleil

“Hopeless.” She slumped into the chair in her lab. Tables filled with meteorological charts, polar temperature graphs, polar ice cap deterioration surround her, as she taps on the laptop displaying the carbon dioxide content increase of the atmosphere.

“So I guess there’s no point in worrying about it, eh, Dr. Jansen?” Jordan, her graduate student, says with a sly grin. A long-time climate denier, he started his advanced degree in atmospheric science in the hopes that he can use the degree to spread his personal beliefs, and make money in doing so, something that Sarah Jansen had long suspected.

Looking at him, she replies “apparently not” in an exasperated tone. “These studies indicate that we are beyond the critical point. There’s nothing we can do to stop it now. And…” she adds, “you may as well not bother having children. We won’t survive that long.”

The argument in the war room is raging, and far removed from the climate debate.

“You have NO idea?” the President asks.

The high ranking air-force general puts his hand over the phone, “Still nothing,” he replies, “we’re working on it.”

“THESE SHIPS ARE AN INVASION FORCE!” the Marine general shouts. “Why else would there be so many of them? Why else wouldn’t they be trying to communicate?”

The president sits back, looking concerned. “The pattern of the ships is dispersing,” the admiral states. “It is looking as if they intend to surround the planet.

“We can defend ourselves,” the army general states. “We have what we need. If they are hostile, they’ll find that we can defend ourselves.”

“Their technology is far beyond ours,” the science adviser states. “Their technology may be well beyond our capabilities. But being an advanced species, there may be nothing of interest here. I recommend we wait.”

An alarm interrupts the conversation, blaring through the room while announcing multiple missile launches from a foreign power.

As the missiles streak out of orbit, their trajectory is unstable. Designed to arch to strike targets on earth, they continue more or less straight, heading for the ships. The ships themselves do not respond.

Space telescopes and radars have been focused on the visitors since they were first detected several hours earlier. Experts and political leaders around the world watch intently, anxious to see what happens, helpless to change the path of these weapons.

“The ships will be well-known soon,” the President says. “It’s time for me to address the nation, before they find out in more…shockingly things.”

“…resulting in a space explosion that will wipe them out. In a bigly way,” the television broadcast announced. “So fear not, we’ll destroy them.”

People around the world watch this and similar announcements, shocked. In the lab, Jordan looks at his mentor. “Don’t worry,” he says, “if the president says they’ll be destroyed, they’ll be destroyed.”

Sarah says nothing.

Blinded by the bright light and sudden burst of radio waves, earth bound scientists continue watching their instruments, for the first hints of proof of the destruction.

“Something is happening,” the air force general states. “I think…”

“Nothing,” the admiral breaks in. “They don’t even seem to have been pushed out of their trajectory. They will be entering the earth’s atmosphere in minutes.”

Dr. Jansen and Jordan are standing with probably everybody on campus: students, faculty, staff, even administration. They are staring at the skies at the space ship, as it streaks overhead. Once gone, nobody moves, knowing to expect it to return, slightly more south than previously. The ship continues to pass and repass. “What in the hell are they doing?” Jordan asks staring at the ship as it passes again. “Are they looking for something?”

When she doesn’t answer, he shifts his gaze to where his thesis adviser was standing. He notices her running towards her lab.

“What are you doing?” Jordan asks abruptly, entering the lab shortly after Dr. Jansens’ arrival.

He sees that she is sitting at her computer, and has accessed the NASA atmospheric satellite. She sits back, and smiles brightly. “They’re…they’re saving us!”

“What does this do for us?” Jordan asks.

The debate has been raging ever since the visit. It didn’t take long for atmospheric scientists to recognize that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been reduced back to levels that appear to be back to what they were believed to be before industrialization.

“The weather patterns will stabilize,” Dr. Jansen replies. “Now, all we have to do is keep it there.”

“That’s BULLSHIT!” Jordan snaps. “If global warming was really a thing, weather would change immediately.”

“It takes time,” Dr. Jansen replies. “Wind patterns take time to return to normal, ocean currents will probably take longer. We’ll still have severe weather for quite a long time.”

It doesn’t take long for the debate to strike Congress. With knowledge of the reduction of the greenhouse gas, the president has called for complete reversal of all environmental laws.

“It is time,” he said in his speech, “to remove the restrictions that have hurt our economy. The debate on the weather is done, these laws are no longer good.”

In Congress, the debate rages. The party of the president argues that the crisis has passed, and if it comes back, the friends will no doubt return and fix it again. The other party argues that the evidence is clear that reckless industrialization has nearly destroyed the planet once, and it is time to regulate industry so it does not happen again.

“As this crisis continues, I am suspending the presidential election. Nothing is more critical than continuing with me as president until this civil unrest is at an end. Nobody is better able to end the violence than me, trust me.

“It is important to realize that there is room for all views as we move forward. It is time that our colleagues across the isle realize this, and fall in line with my policies of supporting a strong economy. There is no more climate crisis. There never was. It’s best for the people to remove restrictions and expensive laws for unnecessary climate protections. I may be forced to instate emergency presidential powers if they don’t start falling in line.

“Don’t get me wrong. If these environmental goons keep blocking the legislation I want to pass, and if the media keeps printing lies about the dangers of carbon dioxide increases, I can take stronger measures. Believe me. I have the military to back me up.”

“Another environmental lab bombing,” Dr. Jansen says to herself, reading the news.

Troops on the campus are presumably there to “keep the peace”, but it has not gone unnoticed that troops are not “protecting” oil refineries, chemical plants or automobile industries. “Why are you worried about it?” Jordan asks. “The president has told us that we will have centuries before the carbon dioxide levels are back to their formal levels, even if they were dangerous, which he said they weren’t.”

Dr. Jansen looks at Jordan. She shakes her head, wondering how much more evidence he needs to start thinking for himself. “It took centuries to build up the infrastructure,” she tries to explain, yet again. “Before the visitors, our carbon dioxide output was growing exponentially. Cleaning the atmosphere didn’t change the rate of production of the greenhouse gas. We don’t have centuries. If we’re lucky, we have a decade, or maybe two. We need to use this time to scale back…”

“We NEED to use this time to make our nation great again,” Jordan cuts her off angrily. He turns around, and storms off.

“Moot point, I guess,” Dr. Jansen goes back to talking with herself. “This civil war may be nothing compared to global war.”

“This is UNACCEPTABLE!” the Canadian UN representative shouts. “A few nations cannot curb the overall carbon dioxide production if the industrialized nations of the world do not do their part! This gift of carbon dioxide scrubbing bought us some time, but we must prevent the return to the crisis while we can! We call on the United States, China…”

“You are in no position to dictate our actions!” the Chinese representative interrupts. “We do not have the technology to replace our coal based power plants. If the United States were on board and willing to give us the technology…”

“We cannot fix the world!” the US representative shouts. “We must put our nation first! We will NOT provide technology to others, and regardless of the desires of Canada, we will NOT get rid our our coal burning plants…”

“It’s not right,” the Japanese representative states, “that the major polluting countries of the world are also the primary nuclear powers. In Japan, we have reduced our carbon dioxide footprint…”

“We are not a major contributor,” the Pakistani representative says. “But we are not afraid to use our nuclear weapons if we feel our way of life is threatened…”

The smoke from the rockets leaving their silos hang heavy. Dr. Jensen sees glowing from the sky, undoubtedly the first inbound retaliatory strike missiles. She can’t help but wonder how this gift could have lead to this, or if, indeed, that was the plan all along.

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