For 20 years I have been following the “Climate change” story, and for eight years I have followed the “Peak Oil” story. Early on, I was reluctant to accept either of them as true. This was possibly due to my scientific background, and therefore a tendency to require massive amounts of evidence before accepting any assertions. But I did come around, and believe that these are the two biggest challenges that face mankind.
I have also had a dream to write fiction, and when John Michael Greer created a contest for stories about a post-petroleum world, I jumped at the chance to write. He had stated in one of his posts that the narrative has greater impact in transforming behavior than the mere recitation of facts. The narrative resonates with people in a way that facts fail to achieve. It personalizes an issue. As an example, compassion for migrant workers during the Great Depression didn’t truly resonate with the masses until John Steinbeck wrote “The Grapes of Wrath”. Facts broadly disseminated by the media had little impact. Perhaps then, should a realistic story about a post-petroleum future catch the imagination of the public, then maybe we will be able to make substantive inroads into finally addressing these most pressing issues facing humanity.
I picked east-central Iowa as the primary setting for the story because I am from this area, am familiar with the people, the land, and climate, and believe that this area will become a magnet in a warmer, resource constricted future. I think that the proximity of the Quad Cities to farmland with very fertile soil, the most traveled Interstate highway in America, barge traffic on the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes-St Laurence system make this area resilient to the most catastrophic effects of systemic collapse.
Meanwhile, I selected far southwest Oklahoma, near Altus, as the location from which many of the migrants (Ninety-four Forties) came. I don’t foresee this area being very resilient at all to the effects of climate change and resource constraints. Passing through this area last summer revealed thousands of dead and dying trees, the results of a multi-year drought that continues as of this writing (May, 2014).
Finally, as a result of research that I have done over the past eight years, I have come to the conclusion that two contrasting land use models will emerge spontaneously in the aftermath of serious decline or collapse of industrial society; that being the cooperative model, and the neo-feudal model. Competition between a co-op and a feudal estate existing in close geographic proximity to one another could be a source of major friction and even violence in the future. I try to highlight that potential conflict in my story.
I hope you find (or found) the narrative plausible and interesting. The story represents just one possible scenario for our future.