New Atlantis

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


Lost at sea-
Tides hit and run,
Slow waves maroon and hide,
Drown in depths of hunger and drought.

Cities, coastal, sink into sand-
Disappear before our eyes,
Four metres a year- two rooms high-
The earth, the sea, is already taking savage bites.

New Atlantis… lost, half drunk with drowning,
Power of skyscraper floats over Hong Kong,
The hustle and thrust of Shanghai,
Pastel exoticism of fondant Miami villas,
The glory of Sydney’s bay,
And swathes of London…
Who so-called ruled the waves, is ruled again,
St Pauls, a dome floats an island meringue
In an ocean of brown vanilla sauce,
Manhattan mythed of epic stature,
Chocolate slabs and gelatine sheets
As weak and nothing,
A global powerhouse caved in,
Encroached by white fighting crests.
Islands, pinpricks on maps, invisible once again,
Low lying places- Bangladesh to Netherlands
Mown down,
dislocation, relocation- easy-thrown words,
A Neverland of blight.

Meanwhile emperor penguins huddle watch,
Birdbrains curious at melting ice,
Their land, their home, dissolves and crumbles
Before their black bead eyes.

And humans, our very small birdbrains
Pump out Mount St Helen’s each day,
Twelve times a day, emissions vomit putrid gas
Flatten, suffocate, melt and disintegrate.

Canute understood- no-one can control the sea,
It takes no orders,
Admire it.
Respect it.
Cosset it.
Treat it right and it might take care of you.

Disregard the sea-
Care not for the swallowing of ice sheets,
a gulp of raspberry ripple ice-cream-
Blood of futures folded through it,
Sickness and sweet sticky cloy,
And we dream in futility.


Catherine Jones was a lawyer until she had her family and now works as a writer, musician and artist which is what she always wanted to be… A Londoner, who loves the city, she is based in Gloucestershire, UK, but with dual German and UK citizenship, she has always felt she is a citizen of the world, and she cares passionately about its survival. She uses her writing and art to share her vision.

The fallen staircase

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


When my family moved into this house, the previous owner jokingly said that `this is where the coast used to be’. She waited for my face to register surprise, then led me through to the living room and pointed to a map of the area as it had been at the end of the last Ice Age. She left it for me when she moved out, and I stuck it on my bedroom wall with blu-tack, despite my mum’s plea not to risk tearing the wallpaper. I never liked the wallpaper.

The house was a beautiful stone construction, at least a hundred years old and built to withstand the bitterly cold winds of East Yorkshire for at least another five hundred. I chose the bedroom at the top of the house with the view eastwards towards the North Sea, the cold stone steps from the hall an escape route to my own world. In the winter the inside of the window would develop a thin film of ice.

As a studious sixteen year old, I immediately searched for local books. I discovered that the entire plain to the east was formed from glacial deposits as the ice retreated ten thousand years ago. That is why the land is so fertile, and so flat, a continuous stretch of farmland. I would imagine huge sheets of pale blue ice towering above our house, perhaps a kilometer thick. In the past ten thousand years the coast had retreated by twelve miles. In another ten thousand years it would reach our house. That seemed a huge safety margin.

I made a friend, Ollie, and we would cycle to the coast and wander along the beaches. Month by month we witnessed the road slipping down the fragile cliffs onto the beach, then slowly disappearing into the sea. Four hundred metres inland stood a house that was more perfect than our family’s, a large bay windowed Victorian structure, with roses of every colour in the front garden, and a perfect lawn to the rear. We would climb onto the garden wall and make plans as to how we would lay out the formal garden were it ours, which flowers we would grow.

When I was twenty five, having returned from university, Ollie and I went every day to stand and stare as this large house was consumed, room by room, by the incoming tide below. There was a violent storm which lasted for two days, fierce lashing rain and wind that whipped away anything that wasn’t tied down. After this, there was no trace of the building. Two weeks later, the furthermost garden wall on which we had sat tumbled down, welcomed by the incoming sea. The house that was built to last several lifetimes was but a pile of rubble strewn across the beach. The building materials were scavenged before the sea took them.

The first time I realised how great an issue was facing us was when the power station became an island. Always heavily fortified against the incoming sea, concrete the solution to coastal erosion, I was surprised to see one winter that the sea had broken around the back of the structure. It was like the castles that we built on fresh sand, first the sea worked round the back of the mounds, then it chipped away at the base, small chunks falling from the sides. Finally, and suddenly, a single wave overwhelms what had been there and the terrain is flat again. Not even a causeway built to carry the road and railway to the power station could prevent the inevitable. Now, the remains of the power station sit eleven miles out to sea, a lit beacon the only sign that it ever existed.

Each summer the smell of the salt of the sea became stronger. Each time the wind blew from the east, the breaking waves became louder. Each year we would hear of a farmer losing their entire land to the sea. A complete village wiped off the map in the space of two years. The ruins of a thousand year old abbey swallowed in months. As a schoolboy I would have relished the dramatic fall of the huge façade, but now it seemed to predict something terrible.

And now I am thirty seven. The sea is lapping at the base of the low cliff that stands a few feet away from our front door, not a uniform straight coastline, but one of fingers of sea, insatiably seeking the softest substrate. In many ways the lagoon is beautiful, its shape constantly changing as the autumn tide rises. My heirloom, poised on the edge of a cliff above a beautiful lagoon, waits to be unloaded like rubbish into a tip. Of course, it is now completely worthless; it has been uninsurable for over a decade. Nearly everything that could be salvaged has been packed away and put into storage. What’s left is a shell cocooning vibrant wallpapers, thick, stained oak floors, why take the curtains? This is the only home I have ever known.

I haven’t even asked where we’re going. There’s a large removal van parked behind the house. The packers are now only willing to enter through the back door.

We’re lucky that the road approaches from the west, as if we had planned our own escape route. As the car pulls away for the last time I turn back, and I can just see the mighty stone staircase to my old room slip silently away, a moraine of rectangular stones.


Dave Murray writes plays, poetry and short stories. He is based in Manchester.

Swimming over the future

This “vision” is the first in 33 (or more!) that we’ll be publishing on this site over the next few months. Most of them will go into Life Plus 2 Meters, Volume 2 (expected publication: Dec 2017). Please do comment with your thoughts on the message, how to sharpen the narrative, and/or how you feel/think about adapting to climate change (we’re not very subtle 😉

So, please put yourself into some of these visions, and — seriously — we hope you enjoy them 🙂  — David Zetland (editor) and the authors


Nathan Scott slid into his lightweight dive gear and prepared to explore a new site in the sunken city. His father was a photojournalist and his mother an archeologist, so this work came naturally to him. He had been diving and exploring ancient ruins since he was a boy. Now, he was the archeologist and was leading his own team.

For this dive, Nathan wanted to see how things had changed since the sea had taken over and an earthquake had further dropped the ground below. They used cutting-edge laser mapping gear to map the location. Simply swimming over the dive site would give them a 3-D model of the entire area.

With a nod from the members of his team, each diver

backrolled into the warm saltwater and descended to the bottom. The site was relatively shallow – only 30 feet deep. Just a few miles away, the bottom dropped off quickly, with depths measured in miles, but that was a dead zone.

Swimming nearly unencumbered by his dive gear, Nathan thought back to his dad’s gear and laughed to himself. That stuff was ancient. It all belonged to museums now. Nathan’s dad had died a few years before, but his mom was still alive. At 100-years-old, she loved to tell stories of their adventures together and relive them like it was yesterday.

Nathan caught sight of the building he planned to survey. The architecture was considered “space-age” at the time. That brought another laugh. Now that space travel was common, he realized the science fiction writers and architectural dreamers had it pretty close. The buildings on Mars looked like what he saw in front of him. Minus the corals, of course.

The main structure had looked like an ancient satellite with four long legs coming down at angles and crossing at the top in two massive bows. The central structure rose from the ground as a single pedestal and then flared out, connecting to the legs. Storms had knocked the structure sideways and dropped the main building to the sea floor now, though.

Approaching the remnants of the building, Nathan could tell a few glass windows had survived the fall, but other than that it was completely open to the sea. In the shadow of the building, Nathan turned on his underwater light to get a look inside.

The water had risen slowly, but inexorably, so the people who worked in the building had time to remove everything. All that was left was furniture that couldn’t be moved easily and the walls of the building itself. He knew there was nothing of value there, which is probably why it had been left alone all these years.

Sweeping his light to the side, Nathan saw a shadow move. There was something there. But what? There were no sharks left in this part of the ocean. Whatever it was, it was big, though. Bigger than him, big.

Nathan moved inside the building. He needed to see what was there. Whatever it was, the thing kept moving just out of his vision. He kicked further inside. The odd angles of the floor and the walls, with the structure lying on its side, were disorienting.

What was in there? Was it just his imagination?

Moving into the cavernous room, Nathan stayed away from the walls. He didn’t want to get backed into a corner. Swinging his light to his right to look around a partition, his heart almost stopped. He had heard stories, but he almost didn’t believe what he saw. The flowing fins and spines radiating from the fish’s body identified it immediately. A lionfish. But this one was as big as a lion. It had to weigh 400 pounds.

The fish advanced toward him, stalking him like prey, and Nathan backpedaled quickly. The fish’s flowing spines were as long as he was tall and could deliver enough ichthyotoxic venom to paralyze him on the spot. Lionfish were known to be fearless and aggressive hunters. There wasn’t much left in the ocean that could challenge them these days.

Lionfish hunted by moving close to their prey and then darting forward, lowering their flat lower jaws, and sucking prey into their mouths. If this lionfish got too close, Nathan wasn’t sure there was much he could do.

Swimming backward, Nathan crashed into something hard. He managed to run into one of the few remaining glass windows. His reflection in the glass showed him that the huge fish had closed on him.

Nathan raised his light and smashed the window, diving through the falling shards of glass. As he did, he felt a pull against his legs. He grabbed the window frame and pulled himself the rest of the way through the opening just in time. The lionfish’s mouth clamped down on his foot and pulled one of his fins loose. Fortunately, it was too big to fit through the window opening.

He was safe.

Making his way back to the boat was slow going with only one fin, but that was fine. He needed time to reflect on what he saw. On the way, he swam over the most famous landmark from the area they were surveying. The A and the X in the famous sign nearly reached the surface, but the L had fallen. All three statues were completely covered in coral growth.

LAX.

He remembered catching a flight there with his dad as they were headed off on some adventure when he was just a kid.


Eric Douglas is a diver who writes both fiction and nonfiction. His Mike Scott series of adventure novels are all set in dive locations around the world. They all involve action, adventure, history and the environment. This story features Mike Scott’s son Nathan, many years in the future. You can find out more about the Mike Scott series or Douglas’ other books at www.booksbyeric.com.