Browsing pages

This “vision” is one of the 30+ that we’ll publish here in the next months. Most of them will go into Life Plus 2 Meters, Volume 2 (expected publication: Dec 2017). We hope that you will comment on the message, suggest ways to sharpen the narrative, and tell us how the story affects your understanding of adapting to climate change.

Most importantly, we hope that you enjoy reading these stories and share them with your friends and family. —David Zetland (editor) and the authors


I still keep an old paper that I have found in my childhood. Nowadays, it is a valuable item, after all. Not many newspapers are left, magazines with colourful photos are even more scarce. When people had to run away during The Dies Vagire, they tended to keep mementos of the past, solid things like books not the so soon outdated papers. After all, they talked about trifle matters, pleasantries, advertisements and pretty pictures. They had left behind the very thing that they cut our forest down. Isn’t it ironic?

I used to flip through pages and imagine myself in that life. I liked pictures the most. After Vagire the new government, The Greenest Party, did not allow to print such useless things any longer. It was a reasonable decision, since we did not have enough trees to sustain our basic needs, we did not have enough water nor electricity to waste it on pretty pictures. They banned many other things, as damaging to environment. Most people do not mind, too busy with surviving.

I would start with imaginary breakfast – a slice of bread with chocolate spread and hazelnuts. I always tried to imagine taste of it, but I have no idea whether I was right or wrong. We don’t use the white bread, tortillas are much easier and they require less heat and ingredients. The chocolate spread was banned anyway, not so long before all cocoa products were banned. It was easier than trying to force planters to stop cutting what was left from rainforests down, to stop overexploiting the soil. Palm oil was also banned, but it didn’t save the orangutans. It is funny – the same paper contained articles about damages to the world made by cocoa and palm oil and an ad for the product that used it in spades. There was also lot of sugar in it – now the sugar is in limited supply, for our health. I cannot even imagine indulging in it every day. The last ingredient, hazelnuts, are extinct. They disappeared almost unnoticed, when plants and animals were slowly moving towards poles, to escape the heat and unpredictable weather. Not all of them managed to survive that journey. There was also milk in that spread – but now it is a rare and expensive treat. We rarely eat meat or diary. Keeping stocks required too much water and crops to make it sustainable.

Then I would proceed to dress in imaginary dresses and shoes – but not with much enthusiasm. I failed to find what was attractive in delicate dresses that were colourful but didn’t shelter from gusts of wind or handbags must have been uncomfortable to wear, not to mention that you couldn’t stuff many items inside. What was the reason for wearing jackets that ended above one’s navel? What puzzled me the most were shoes – few straps on a high heel must have been everything but easy to walk in. Then I would remember, that they didn’t need to be as protected from weather as we are. They could be looked at, we must look out.

But my favourites were pictures of the last minute holiday destinations. I love the idea of calling it last minute, because even if they didn’t mean it, it was true. I looked at pictures of snow and skiing and skating on ice – water doesn’t freeze on its own any longer. I have seen ice, but the government disapproves of it – there is no need to use it for storing vegetables and creating and keeping it is a waste of our energy. The other direction of trips was to the seaside. Beaches covered with sand, blue sea, sun setting over the horizon – they are gone now. The beaches are covered in algae and poisonous jellyfish. The sea had also changed its colour to greenish. There are no fish there, suffocated by a layer of plankton and seaweeds that kept air and sun away from the deeper parts of the water. All that was alive in sea is now dead and rotting – at least that is what our seaside smells like. Only the sun is the same, possibly because it was too far away for us to contaminate it.

I have always skipped pages about green energy. It saddened me, how hopeful they were and how badly they failed. The solar panels could not survive hails and raising cloud coverage rendered them useless in colder regions and they were easily damaged by the scorching sun in the sunny parts of the world. The wind turbines could not keep up with hurricanes and tornadoes.

Now, when I browse the pages my attention is caught by one of the adverts that says ‘The future is now’. It is wrong, I think, we are past any future. The past is now and all we have left of it is not enough.


Anna Maria is a professional student with interests in various fields, ranging from language and linguistics, through literature, history, to art and biology. She wants to use her knowledge to write stories that are entertaining enough to be educating. Raised in a surprisingly green Silesia region (inside Polish borders) she hopes that greed will not prevail over reason.

School Run

John Sayer helps his kids prepare for school in future Hong Kong

Good morning girls. Have you packed your lunches? We have some papaya from the tree beside our house, take that too. The tree’s doing better since we joined the Compost Compact. We need more home-grown fresh fruit since they put that quota on air-freight food imports to Hong Kong.

You can bring your sandwich onto the ferry. That new electric boat is more stable than the old one, and nice and quiet when I feel like a nap.

Yes, you can carry your parasolars today. Don’t stab other pedestrians in the eye while you’re playing with them and don’t damage the cells or the fans. Use them, though; the UV forecast is ‘extreme’ today. Wear your evapocool undershirts as well. You’ll look like the plastic bottles they’re recycled from!

I’ve got to stay in this morning, they’re fitting our home air-and-water temperature system later today. Yes, hot water and cool air from the same machine. It will run off our own roof panels on a sunny day, and we sell extra electricity to Hong Kong Electric . . . to get a lower power bill.

While the engineers are here I’ll ask when the salt water flushing water is going to be installed on the island. We are among the last districts to be fitted. Yes, most of Hong Kong’s toilets were converted years ago to use sea water.

Convenient to stay home; they’re doing a ‘floor lift’ at the office this month; moving everything out of the ground floor of our office block and knocking the walls out to allow water to pass under in case of street floods. Not too big problem for our work, I mean who in Hong Kong isn’t used to the best use of small areas? Just better sharing of desk space? And perhaps more working from home.

Actually the opened up street level under our office will be made into a walk-though public space, with improved air circulation. It will probably become part of the ‘cool spots’ initiative – that’s right, those places where people can sit in a mist breeze for a minute or two if they overheat on the streets. Yes, I do like them. Have you tried the new scented mists? Menthol, lemon, mango? I think the cosmetic companies should sponsor them! We could have an Issey Miyake mist stop, a Burberry breeze break. Perhaps Body Shop could produce a mosquito-repelling mist.

They have mist fans in the school playground don’t they? All the recreation areas are covered right? When you play on the fields you wear those Foreign Legion hats don’t you?

I do hope this Great Harbour Wall will help keep water levels down when it’s finished. I’m glad they covered the cycle track along the top with a solar panel roof. You can cycle anywhere along the whole waterfront without getting bleached in the sun. A clever idea to add that tidal energy trial into the wall over by the old airport too – they’ve nicknamed it “the steel dragon” because of the bendy bits.

Did you see that the Mandatory Provident Fund are offering higher returns to anyone who cycles or walks to work? That’s because they think we’ll use less money on medical costs. They call it nudging I think – so know your being nudged! Well, I’ll let you cycle to school when they have completed the separate track, I don’t want you to go under a bus – those electric ones are a bit quiet.

What’s your after-school CAS* activity today? Weather outreach for old people, so that they can respond to extreme weather or flood warnings? Some use smartphones and some need a young person to go round and talk to them. That’s nice for them anyway, you should plan to visit them even if they do have a smart phone; even when the weather is safe.

The school is helping with flood probability surveys? I see, you make a record of the types of doors and windows in low-lying houses, and the direction the doors face and then this is combined with a GPS flood map to work out overall vulnerability. Do they fit those flood shields? They block the doorway, it slots into the door frame, for about half a meter. Mostly plastic, very strong, made over the border in China.

And how about your CAS? Mozzie watch? That’s looking out for standing water isn’t it? You can report people? Sounds a bit tough, they can get fined can’t they? Well I suppose they’ve had enough warning about the rules, and the drainage services are free if work is needed. Still, children reporting adults . . . make sure you don’t start behaving like Red Guards and tormenting adults whose minds are not as sharp as yours.

Don’t forget that this weekend we’re doing the Really Really Free Market in the village. You’re working on ceramics, clothes and cloth. I’m on wood and furniture. I also agreed to do an hour on the Green Cottage stall with veggie breakfasts for everyone in aid of the help the Village Circular Economy initiative.

Have a nice day today. There’s a typhoon out beyond the Philippines, but you’ve downloaded the Water Watch app right? Why do you call it ‘turds’? Typhoon, tide deluge and surge; very funny – not. Alright, phone charged right? Use the elevated walkways okay! Sunblock please, parasolas or no parasolas.

Goodbye, stay safe

Bye . . . haven’t you forgotten something? Water bottles, water bottles. Remember the trouble you got into with that plastic bottle!

No, the typhoon’s still a couple of days away. You may have to have a day’s skypeschool if it arrives.


John SayerThe Really Really Free Market is real – operated by young people in Hong Kong for free exchange of unwanted goods. Already, over 80% of toilets in Hong Kong flush with sea water. The Green Cottage is a vegetarian Café on the car-free Lamma Island in Hong Kong. John Sayer (email) is Director of Carbon Care Asia, and lives on Lamma Island with two daughters who travel to school by public ferry.

* CAS stands for Creativity, Activity and Service in West Island School.