Koos Kombuis
Koos Kombuis

The day after the day before tomorrow

“If scientists were predicting the imminent return of the ice age I’m certain our response would have been more robust. ‘Global warming’ creates an illusion of a comfortable, warm future that is deeply appealing … ”

The Weather Makers – The History and Future Impact of Climate Change by Tim Flannery (Allen Lane, Penguin, 2005)

The Future is here.

The Future knocked on our front door, and when we looked through the peeping hole to see who it was, it said, “I am the Future.”

“But you’re only supposed to be here tomorrow,” we said. “This is the Present.”

“I am Tomorrow,” the Future said. “Let me in.”

“But this is the day before Tomorrow,” we said. “And we’re a bit busy right now. We simply don’t have the time … ”

But the Future would not take “No” for an answer. The Future kicked the door down, and barged into our lives.

The Future swept into our comfort zone, upsetting all our well-laid plans, tossing torrents of water onto our beds, setting fire to our kitchen, swirling like a hurricane through our lounge, flooding and burning and blowing and shaking like the wicked wolf out to destroy the three little pigs’ house.

In retrospect: we could have stopped the Future, or at least delayed it, had we been willing to make a deal with it the first time it contacted us. We might have appeased the Future, if only we had not ignored its phone calls. If we had replied to its numerous emails. But now the Future has lost its temper, and so it decided to arrive unannounced, to take us by storm.

Climate change has arrived. It is here.

It is no longer some prediction made by a lone group of soft-spoken, serious white-coated scientists. It is no longer a projection of possible doom on page three of the daily paper. It is no longer an omen, a vague threat, an uneasy niggling at the fringes of our conscience.

The Future is here, in all its fury. The Future is attacking suburban streets, setting fire to houses in Australia. The Future is bombarding America with hurricanes and extreme cold, it is flooding England, it is causing mayhem and death and destruction across the planet on a scale last seen during the onset of the last ice age.

We had been diddling and doodling while Rome was catching fire. And now the conflagration has reached the centre squares of the city. Doom has arrived in our society like a troupe of uncouth barbarians, making a mockery of our economic system, our clever iPads and our Justin Bieber videos and our tennis tournaments and our internet gossip and our smartphones and our political ideologies and our petty squabbles and our unimportant neuroses and our self-obsessed chatter. It is jerking the carpet of civilisation from under our feet, exposing us for the primitives we are.

So, the United States is criticising Uganda for its gay policy? Fair enough. Homophobia is bad, after all! But is pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and killing generations of unborn children supposed to be okay?

Our priorities are skewed. The things that matter to us are worthless. Our hobbies, our blogs, our opinions and our civil rights must all give way to the inescapable fact that the Future is here, now, demanding a response, commanding our undivided attention, waving its handful of storms and havoc and misery and mud slides and disease and fear and horror right under our noses.

And suddenly, nothing else matters.

Suddenly, this is the thing.

Suddenly, there’s nothing else.

This is the moment when we wake up and realise that perhaps it’s too late, perhaps the coming changes can no longer be prevented. Perhaps we are on a roller-coaster ride that has gone out of control.

The Future is here, and it is not afraid of us any more. Its time has come. Whatever you call it — Aquarius, the end of time, that thing the Mayans predicted in their weird stone tablets, the slow trains and the tempests that Bob Dylan sang about in his nasal voice, the road to hell charted by Chris Rea, the dangers Greenpeace warned us about, all the stuff in that Al Gore DVD that we didn’t want to think about, all the trials and tribulations of the book of Revelations, all that shit is finally coming down, and can no longer be stopped, and there’s nowhere to hide, and there are no other planets to escape to, and we are finally facing the Abyss, and the Abyss is facing us, and this is the century of reckoning …

This is no longer the Future. This is NOW.

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