POLES NOW, TROPICS LATER
Dreamed 1997/3/27 by Chris Wayan
I'm hiking over a glacier with fellow members of the independence movement. The sky's purple. We wear hotsuits and breathing masks. We're near the South Pole of Mars.
We came all the way from the North Pole, and the equator before that. On the run from the corporate owners of our world. Not just fleeing, though: we're following a long term plan. We needed to inspect our terraforming program at both poles, compare them to the equator.
Our program hasn't affected the tropics much yet, but the ice is MUCH thicker at both poles now. Total Martian surface water is way up. The new damper climate will creep down from the poles, and reach the warmer habitable zones at the equator last.
I know all that, but feel ironic anyway--all this work, and nothing to show for it so far but this damn glacier. I know with my head that ice on the surface is like money in the bank... but it's just not the same as a forest or a sea, though it'll lead to them. But I want them now. I want a place to live. I want... home.
A single chance word triggered this dream: "terraform". The Web boom caused a housing shortage in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prices soared and our landlord sold our house. We're being evicted now. I feel a bit like the Martian explorers in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars trilogy, as corporate money and power invade their seedling Marstopia. The utopians built refuges under the polar ice. Where can we go? So far, nowhere. Three of us, Lily, Alder and me, are house-hunting as a group. Lily and I are ready to turn a house into the live-work artists' co-op we need, but Alder's sure we can't, and is still looking for a ready-made home. But today, she saw more homes, and Lily said drily "They were terrible. Alder's much more willing now to terraform."
Polar caps growing = my life feels MORE frozen now, more stuck, especially around dating and sex, than twenty years ago! But Martian ice is precious: it's water and air, in cold storage. Maybe I'm building up resources in OTHER areas that I can use later in the warmer zone of relationships. like assertiveness in hard times. Like stubbornness.
The "frozen" poles change first, the warm tropics change last = true of global warming on Earth at least--the poles warm far more than the tropics. True in my arid Martian life too--in the capitalist Big Chill, hard skills are building up. The shift is auspicious, in the long run--even if all I have to show for it now are changes that look, well... glacial.
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