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Jo'Burg Days: A Very Different World

Barbara Durlacher takes a bleak thought-provoking look into the future.

Time: The future.

It all happened gradually. For years they had nurtured the ‘cult of the individual’ and whilst this brought some of the most remarkable advances and inventions, they had ignored the dangers. This individualistic cult allowed people to develop their own potential to heights previously undreamt of, but it also brought many unexpected problems.

Enormous increases in mass housing created new pressures for cities to provide suitable infrastructure to service the spreading developments. The enormous car manufacturing giants, employing every known persuasion to sell more and more vehicles each year, convinced citizens to opt for individual transport instead of the former trams, buses and trains.

As mass transportation was phased out, roads became clogged with thousands of cars and the increased exhaust and hot air gases created huge pollution. Epidemics of asthma and bronchial infections were reported all over the world, and allergies of all kinds increased.

Cancers and many life threatening diseases caused by new technology, food additives and unsafe sex practices became common. The health of the world’s population was suffering, but as the population had grown to unsustainable proportions, there seemed to be no solution, and governments were reluctant to take preventative measures or institute any form of population control.

Space flight had enabled large quantities of goods and people to be moved around at dizzying speeds. At present it is possible to get from England to Japan in just over three hours and it is expected that these times will be reduced further. Scientists are saying that within a moon-time their experiments on body-exchange transference will be perfected, and it will no longer be necessary for individuals to physically move from one continent to another. One would only have to exchange bodies, rather as in the past holiday houses were exchanged, and you will be where you wish to be. For example, if you want to visit Japan, you will contact a person in that country who wants to visit Britain, and on the given day, at the correct time, you will simply exchange bodies. “ It will be a great saving in time and energy consumption, and put a stop to those congested drives to and from the airport. No more interminable delays in airport lounges. They will become a thing of the past,” say the scientists confidently.

But as the transport of goods and people declined, the number of private cars increased, and the emission of fossil fuels brought global warming with disastrous effects.

Glaciers melted and sea-levels rose, inundating thousands of coastal towns and cities and drowning low-lying areas. The global map changed out of all recognition. Typhoons and hurricanes were weekly occurrences, caused by the enormous masses of overheated air in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. There was talk of building underground cities as refuges from the battering of wind and water, but as in the distant era, there was no move to curb the pollution and exhaust gases, or replace the fossil fuels with other, less dangerous, alternatives.

The world’s greatest super-power, America, presently governed by oligarchs, was in the position to commandeer all financial resources and stocks of fossil fuels. Their powerful position was due to a fifty-year unbroken term of office obtained through rigged elections and political chicanery. Important members of the group were known as “The Power,” and these greedy men used the swathing fiscal cut-backs to enable them to continue their war against the Muslim states. Funding denied to all other parties in the execution of this all-embracing ideology meant that the ocean and river flood defences were never strengthened and repaired, and cities became vulnerable to storm surges, which soon destroyed everything. The seas rushed in, drowning millions and destroying the old centres of power such as London, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and coastal cities and settlements around the world.

Soon after the “The Inundation,” the great flood after the hurricane of summer 2005 which drowned so many American coastal cities, small groups of the greatly reduced population moved to higher ground, away from the raging oceans. The balance of trade and development shifted; agriculture was reduced to a minimum and life became hand-to-mouth. As the years passed, education and the acquisition of personal wealth was forbidden, football became the overall religion and pop music the only form of entertainment. The Arts and intellectualism were ignored and forgotten.

“The Eye” kept watch from the electronic box in the wall. Monitoring all movement and conversation, as well as providing constant instructions, opinions and commands, interspersed with long periods of loud discordant sounds; the electronic eye was what ‘The Power’ termed distraction. It was put there to spy on all citizens irrespective of age or calling, and could not be switched off or removed. But the masses seemed content, it was impossible to know if they wished for more as all protest was prohibited and revolt was ruthlessly put down.

Sounds far-fetched? Well, if you don’t believe this vision , take a look around you. These things are already happening, with consequences for all to see, but nobody does anything,. Everyone is far too busy pursuing greater wealth and possessions.

Nobody seems to care.

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