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    Bill W
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
2014 - Fall - Scars Entry

S.C.A.R.S. 2094 - 1. Chapter 1

The Severe Climate Awareness and Relocation Services unit, S.C.A.R.S. for short, was founded in 2043 and charged with relocating individuals and families living in areas that were most affected by the rising sea level. Those working for the agency were assigned to assist the communities that were becoming inundated with salt water and where the homes and businesses were slowly being reclaimed by nature. This meant there were regional offices situated all along the east coast, west coast, Gulf coast and Mississippi River Delta to assist the residents in those areas that could no longer stay where they were.

The water level had risen 4.5 feet (1.5 m) over the past century, so the oceans currently covered vast swaths of land along the rivers that emptied into them, as well as much of the former coastline. Unfortunately, many of the affected areas were the same locations that had attracted a great deal of residential and commercial development over the past 200 years. Some had even become home to popular tourist attractions, but now these areas were either partially or totally uninhabitable. Due to the ever increasing amount of land and structures that were being overtaken by the rising sea level, they could no longer function in their previous capacity,.

Over the years, sections of New York City, Long Island, Virginia Beach, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Tampa, Miami, the Florida Keys, New Orleans and a large section of southern Louisiana had become unusable. Even portions of Washington, D.C. were under threat. On the west coast, the San Francisco bay area was the most severely affected, although it wasn't the only area losing ground. Slowly, the hills of San Francisco were becoming islands.

There was also no end in sight and it was believed that by the middle of the 22nd century, the rise in sea level would increase to 7-feet (2 m). When that happened, the oceans would engulf nearly all of Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, the eastern and southern portions of Long Island and over half of Florida, along with San Diego and most of San Francisco, just to name a few places.

The agency was in the midst of celebrating it's 50th anniversary when I went to work there. After going through the general orientation process with the other 'new hires,' I realized I had learned a great deal, but there were still a great many questions left unanswered. Later, after I was formally introduced to my immediate supervisor, Sarah Ferguson, I decided to see if she could clear up my confusion.

"Where are we going to put all of the people that need to flee where they're living now?" I asked her. "Since S.C.A.R.S was founded, the country has lost nearly 10% of its land to the ocean and the problem is only getting worse. Even though just part of Florida is currently under water, we're probably going to end up moving everyone out of the state. It's been pointed out that the aquifers are becoming increasingly tainted with salt water and leaving those still residing there without potable water. No other areas willing to send water to them, because they are worried about their own water supply drying up or becoming unusable. That's a lot of people we'll need to find new homes for, so where are we going to put them?"

"It is a daunting task," she agreed, "but we'll find places for them and make this work."

"But that's only one location and similar things are happening all along the coast," I pointed out. "Even if the area isn't under water yet, many of the communities nearby are finding their drinking supply contaminated by the influx of ocean water. When that happens, it forces those residents to move as well."

"We'll find a way. We always do," Sarah stated, reassuringly. "It may not be easy, but people will just have to cooperate, if they want to survive."

"Where are we going to put everyone?" I challenged. "There are just so many other places that we have to avoid as well, if we don't want to encroach on the agricultural and wildlife areas. If we move people to those areas, it will severely hinder our ability to feed ourselves and we can't afford to do that."

"That's very true, but we'll manage somehow," she answered. "The inhabitants of the affected areas will be allowed to choose where they want to go, from a list we've compiled, but there will be certain restrictions they'll have to adhere to. It's the only way this will work."

"I just hope everyone will cooperate, both those we're moving and those in the areas we're moving them to," I replied, as I thought about those that had been resisting our efforts.

 

"They won't have much choice," Sarah reasoned. "The areas we'll be using will have to be flexible and adhere to established restrictions. They won't be permitted to spread beyond their current boundaries, so their only option will be to expand upward to accommodate the increase. It means they will only be allowed to replace current structures with buildings that have more stories and provides living space for a greater number of people."

"That's fine for those than can afford to do it, but what about those that don't have the resources," I challenged.

"There will be some funding available to help out," Sarah explained. "We're also encouraging families to allow relatives, including distant relatives needing to relocate to move in with them. That shouldn't be as bad as it sounds, since many homes were originally constructed with enormous amounts of square footage. Now, there just won't be as much wasted or unused space."

I hoped she was right and we'd be able to work this out, but I still had my doubts. First of all, many people in the affected areas didn't want to move, no matter how bad the threat. Some even argued that this was only a temporary situation and the water would eventually recede, so they'd be fine. Those arguments rang hollow though, since there were no facts or studies to support this conclusion and recent history proved otherwise.

Take New York City for example. With the rise in ocean levels, much of Manhattan, along with sections of the other boroughs, were virtually uninhabitable, although some diehards still chose to remain. The streets were basically canals and the subway was totally underwater, so no normal means of transportation was available. Those that stayed managed to get around by using kayaks, canoes and row boats, since none of them were able to get gasoline to power a motorboat. They also couldn't enter buildings in normal ways, since the water level made it difficult to open doors and you would have to wade through water in the lobby, even if you could get inside.

Since most of the businesses were located on the ground level, many were wiped out and no longer operating, so even basic necessities were difficult, if not impossible, to come by without traveling long distances. Utilities were also unavailable, since the flooding had shut down the power grid and polluted the water supply. Even though the city was home to many high rises, without elevators they might as well have not existed, because it was too much of a chore to navigate up and down the multiple flights of stairs. New York was not the only city to suffer like this, but it had produced the largest number of people that now needed a new place to live.

On the other hand, there were also many residents in the communities we were relocating these refugees to that were resisting our efforts as well. They didn't feel this was their problem, so they were unwilling to share the hardships. It was a tough sell all the way around and we were facing resistance from nearly every direction.

There was also the problem that there were no true safe havens for people to go, where they would be completely free from worry. The occurrence of dangerous storms were increasing as well and appearing in locations that had never been affected by them before. Thunderstorms were not only becoming more frequent, but they were growing more violent and often gave birth to tornadoes. This wasn't just happening in 'tornado alley' either. Nearly every corner of the lower 48 states had to worry about tornadoes, even if they'd never experienced one before. The tornadoes were also more severe than those that had happened in the past, which only exacerbated the problem.

Hurricanes were also becoming more powerful and now affected the entire eastern seaboard, all the way to Maine. Even the communities several hundred miles inland had to be prepared for hurricane season, which was no longer just June through November. The season had been expanded and now lasted from April through December. The warmer ocean temperatures not only increased how far hurricanes traveled to the north, but it also made them stronger. A sixth category had to be added to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale because of this. Category 5 was now for hurricanes with winds between 156 and 200 m.p.h. (251 to 322 k.p.h.), while category 6 storms had wind speeds over 200 m.p.h. (322 k.p.h.).

There had also been an increase in the flooding resulting from these storms, which was slowly eroding more of the coastline. The storms were also destroying crops and damaging wetland areas, which only made the problem worse. As bad as it was, I couldn't understand why nothing had been done in the past to prevent it from getting this bad, so I verbally lashed out in frustration.

"I learned in history class that scientists and politicians knew about this problem as far back as the 1990s, so why didn't they act sooner and do something about it?" I wanted to know. "If they had, then we wouldn't be knee-deep in this mess now."

"I suppose there were a couple of reasons for their lack of action," my supervisor responded, while shaking her head slightly, since she had gone over this many times before. "First, the measures required to fix the situation were inconvenient, and second, many people didn't feel it was their problem. They reasoned that they'd be dead by the time the situation became critical, so they wouldn't have to deal with it."

"Inconvenient for them? What about for us?" I challenged, totally appalled by the logic.

"Many didn't want to think that far into the future," Sarah replied, with a sigh. She knew if they had, she wouldn't be facing this problem now. "At the time, it would have required them to make changes to their lifestyle and forced them to give up luxuries they were reluctant to part with."

"Like what?" I pressed, since it was so long ago that much of it seemed foreign to me now.

"Well for example, there were many people that didn't want to have to give up driving large, gas-guzzling vehicles or owning multiple vehicles, let alone having to use mass transportation," she responded, while flashing me a strange look. I wasn't sure if she was upset with how they had reacted or if she was upset by my persistent questions. "Many people thought the restrictions were an infringement on their individual rights and interfered with their freedom of choice. They certainly were resistant to the idea of switching to more fuel efficient vehicles or driving less, because they felt it limited their decision making ability. Basically, they wished to do what they wanted, when they wanted and refused to consider how it would effect future generations."

"So basically they didn't care because they wouldn't be around when the shit hit the fan, so to speak?" I countered, trying to summarize her point.

"Basically," she concurred, with a slight nod of her head. "For others, fixing the problem would have cut into their bottom-line and prevented them from making or having as much money as they wanted."

"Yeah, like we have that type of luxury now," I scoffed. "We're trying to cram anywhere from four to eight families into houses that were once intended for single family use and hardly anyone has their own vehicle any longer. Moving people around now is done mostly by using large trucks, buses, trains, barges and ships. Even air travel is becoming a thing of the past, because it takes too much fuel to get those monsters into the air. Not only that, but the violent storms have brought down a large number of planes, with disastrous results. Every time that happened, it frightened even more people away from flying and caused them to start making other choices to get around."

"Yes, this crisis has forced us to make a great many changes," Sarah stated, as she glanced into the air, as if she were thinking about something. "Take the food situation, for example. Since some agricultural areas have been lost and production levels have dropped due to the various hardships, there aren't as many items available for sale. For that reason, a lot of people are trying to grow their own crops, with some doing it indoors, near the windows, on a porch or even on rooftops, if they don't have any land to use. In the same way, other folks have turned their garage or storage shed into a makeshift barn so they can raise chickens, cows or pigs for eggs, meat and milk.

"Look what has happened to the educational system as well," Sarah added, as she suddenly became more animated. "Large school systems are a thing of the past, because we need the space for housing, so most instruction takes place in the home or in small groups. Some parents are trying to teach their kids things like reading and math the same way they were taught, but most of the time is spent on hands-on survival skills. There are all kinds of other changes taking place as well, but with each one you'll still find a group that is fighting it and refusing to cooperate."

"I know and I can't believe there are people that continue to claim this is just part of a normal cycle the planet goes through," I pointed out. "How bad does it have to get before they're willing to admit this problem was at least partly, if not mostly, due to the choices humans made?"

"For some, nothing will ever convince them they are wrong," she quipped. "I'm not sure if we could have avoided these problems completely, even if steps had been taken to address the situation sooner. Maybe if they had acted back in the 1990s or even the early twenty-first century, we might have avoided the worst of the problems, but not all of it."

"Although there are still people like this, I find it hard to believe that so many acted so selfishly and apparently didn't give a damn about anyone else," I blurted out, before sighing. "They were willing to leave the world a mess, rather than accept some minor inconvenience. If previous generations had heeded the warnings and been willing to act sooner, then we wouldn't be in this mess now. The drastic changes that occurred over the past 100 years could have been avoided and I'm afraid many of the scars it has left on the earth may never completely disappear. I just hope we can find a way to leave our children and future generations a little better off than our ancestors left us."

 

THE END.

Thank you for reading and I'd love to hear your thoughts about the story. Please leave a review.

Copyright © 2014 Bill W; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
2014 - Fall - Scars Entry
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Very insightful and lots of food for thought. The thought of these things happening is not unheard of and you did a great job presenting it. Thanks, Bill. :)

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I remember reading a book called Cataclysm when I was younger which talked about the world being swallowed by the oceans.

It scared the hell out of me, but also had a really erotic 'gay' scene in it which kind of thrilled me. :P

 

It was quite nice to see a story based several years into the future of the problem and looking at the effect that the flooding was having on those left to deal with it, and not just the standard 'end of the world' scenario that plays out in so many stories of this nature.

I also thought it was a really clever use of the theme by making Scars into an acronym.

Food for thought though Bill. Thanks for your hard work. :)

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On 09/12/2014 04:29 AM, joann414 said:
Very insightful and lots of food for thought. The thought of these things happening is not unheard of and you did a great job presenting it. Thanks, Bill. :)
Thanks for the feedback, Jo Ann. I felt this was something that needed to be explored.
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On 09/12/2014 09:36 AM, Yettie One said:
I remember reading a book called Cataclysm when I was younger which talked about the world being swallowed by the oceans.

It scared the hell out of me, but also had a really erotic 'gay' scene in it which kind of thrilled me. :P

 

It was quite nice to see a story based several years into the future of the problem and looking at the effect that the flooding was having on those left to deal with it, and not just the standard 'end of the world' scenario that plays out in so many stories of this nature.

I also thought it was a really clever use of the theme by making Scars into an acronym.

Food for thought though Bill. Thanks for your hard work. :)

Thanks for the feedback, Yetti One. This is a problem future generations may face, if we don't do something about it now.
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With each of the stories you tackled you took the idea of Scars in a totally different direction. Here you show the future and what can easily happen if we don't stop and do something to save the world for those who follow us. I really like how you presented everything here and still manage to chastise the world for failing to take the steps that might allow this to never happen. Great story Bill.

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On 09/12/2014 03:01 PM, comicfan said:
With each of the stories you tackled you took the idea of Scars in a totally different direction. Here you show the future and what can easily happen if we don't stop and do something to save the world for those who follow us. I really like how you presented everything here and still manage to chastise the world for failing to take the steps that might allow this to never happen. Great story Bill.
Thanks, Wayne. Yes, each of my stories took the theme in a different direction, although I feel this is the most impportant. If those in power fail to take this seriously and act, future generations are going to pay the price for their inaction.
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On 09/14/2014 12:02 PM, Headstall said:
The ultimate scars of all. The ones we leave on mother earth.
Yes, there's nothing worse than the scars we ourselves create and that leave a negative impact on the planet. Thanks for the feedback, Gary.
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On 09/18/2014 08:55 AM, DynoReads said:
Unique take on the theme. Whether we can change the attitudes in time remains to be seen. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the feedback, Dyno. This is indeed a problem I hope we address before it's too late.
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My second time reading this... it is very timely, Bill, especially with what has happened in the world since you wrote this. I appreciate that you tackled this subject as a retrospective, the bitter reality of this seemingly closer with each year that passes. Good job... cheers... Gary....

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42 minutes ago, Headstall said:

My second time reading this... it is very timely, Bill, especially with what has happened in the world since you wrote this. I appreciate that you tackled this subject as a retrospective, the bitter reality of this seemingly closer with each year that passes. Good job... cheers... Gary....

Thanks you for the feedback, Gary, but this is one time I would rather NOT be correct.  I hope it's not too late to reverse the situation. 

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