The Eruption: 7pm GMT, March 23rd 2079

Hampstead Heath, London.

An East wind blowing, Emily laid skyward facing, as above, ruby-tinted altostratus clouds painted a sunset as majestic as a Joseph Mallord William Turner masterpiece. Silently, she reflected on the innate beauty of such an ominous optical message.

Mount Agung, Bali.

As below, ‘essence’ ascended from several thousand incense sticks placed atop carefully assembled and situated canang offerings, above an eruption column was illuminated by the light of billions of volts of positively charged particles that stretched all the way to the stratosphere.

Christmas Island, Indian Ocean.

Within what seemed like moments, the moonlit-silhouette of the stilted slums of Flying Fish Cove was submerged beneath a wall of water of some 45-meters in height. But for the fact that they had nowhere to go its residents would have evacuated.

Ningaloo Floating City, Western Australia.

The sound of tsunami-warning sirens aside, the gated-community atop the remnants of a reef had fallen silent. Before dawn, its ocean-top glass domes would be shattered by projectiles in the form of anthropogenic debris of assorted description that was travelling at speeds of up to 500 miles an hour across the Indian Ocean.

National Science Centre, Beijing.

Convened by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the foremost minds in the fields of volcanology, climatology, and virology had gathered by virtue of satellite communications. Monitoring the VEI 7 Plinian eruption in real-time, they knew they had their work cut out.

Kremlin Senate, Moscow.

President Volkov listened carefully as Alexander Egorov, the Minister for Agriculture, briefed him on the analysis of the impact of a multi-year volcanic winter on annual global grain yields. Having considered the implications, Volkov ordered the Federal Treasury to quadruple export taxes on all cereals.

Global Disease Detection Center, Cairo.

Zoonoses researcher Dr. Moustafa Amar was on a conference call with the World Health Organisation, “by autumn Arvicanthis niloticus… the wild rat population will have radiated towards urban centres. I recommend upscaling of Yersinia pestis vaccine, and with the utmost immediacy”.

Suwa Grand Shrine, Nagano Prefecture.

Having scribed a record of the meteorological anomalies to which he had born witness, by candlelight a Shinto monk walked through the Torii [temple gate] and onto sacred ground. He then ascended the steps to the Upper Shrine, where he offered thanks and prayers to the kami [nature spirits].

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Over gin-sling nightcaps, members of the local birding society marvelled at the wide-array of avian species that were making an impromptu migration through their city; Javan banded pitta and whistling thrush, Black-banded barbet, and Sunset lorikeet. Even a pair of Pink-headed fruit doves had been sighted! What sights to behold!

Vétérinaires au-delà des Frontières, Ottawa.

Their crew ready and waiting for immediate dispatch, the Emergency Response Team reassured their Indonesian colleagues they’d be there as soon as possible. While inbound flights were postponed until further notice, the Royal Canadian Navy had offered them safe passage.

Saigon Port, Ho Chi Minh City.

Some 48hrs previously, zoologist Prof. Susan Chen, her team, and a precious faunal cargo had set sail from Bali aboard the RMS Aedesia, which they had dubbed “Noah’s Ark”. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of city major, Dao Phan, all passengers were now alight and headed to the safety of Cuc Phuong National Park.

Indian Institute of Ecology, New Delhi.

Eager to understand the eruption’s impact on urban ecology, PhD student Kavita was mobilising citizen scientists to assist her with her research. Her hypothesis was that an influx of invertebrates would alter the behaviour of species such as the Asiatic Lesser Yellow House Bat.

USS Barack H. Obama, Gulf of Thailand.

Bangkok-headed, a diaspora of over 5,000 of Denpasar’s citizens were fleeing the eruption. Aided by his siblings Kadek, Nyoman, and Ketut, aspiring herpetologist, Gede, aged 7, had taken great care to smuggle his several amphibian and reptile specimens onto the ship.

St. Mary’s School, Zaragoza.

Surrounded by an array of teaching tools, Matías was preparing a lesson. His students’ response to the events unfolding some 12,797km away equal part fascination and fear, he hoped that in explaining the cause and effect mechanisms that were at play in Earth systems he could instil a sense of reassurance.

Phoenix Park, Dublin.

His mind wrestling with the profound implications of Mount Agung’s earth-shattering awakening after several decades of near inactivity, poet Niall was weaving words in such a way as would convey the immensity of the eruption’s societal impacts for many centuries and generations to come.

Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.

Pope Alessandra was preparing for a papal audience that would take place in St. Peter’s Square the following day. She felt it imperative to convey that, while an Act of God, the Mount Agung eruption was nonetheless ‘an act of nature’, and one of its many ongoing renewal processes.

Palafito del Mar, Chiloé, Fiordo de Castro.

Two-dozen interdisciplinary architectural and ecological researchers had gathered to explore ways and means by which they might utilise their combined skills and expertise to help rebuild Denpasar in the aftermath of the eruption. “Working with, not against nature” was their modus operandi.

Artist’s Studio, Nuuk.

Installation artists Nukilik and Elisapie were sat sketching. Few knew better than did they that nature is “not a destination, but a journey”. In a land now far greener than it was a century earlier, they contemplated Shiva’s ‘eternal dance’, and its expression in their forthcoming exhibition ‘Nataraja’.

Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Husband Jack took wife Molly in his arms, as beneath a sapphire-coloured Moon he serenaded her. “Blue moon” he sang, as together they danced under stars the colour of gemstones, which reflected in the canals of Africa’s southernmost city created a scene that could be barely more sublime.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York.

David was on the phone to his sister Emily, who was calling from London. “The sky here is breath-taking”, she said. “Ditto”, he replied, “The many trillions of aerosol particles now headed polewards across the Southern and Northern hemispheres have created quite a light show!”

[Originally published on] #ClimateFiction