This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com
If you're looking for fairy tales that are on the grim (not Grimm) side, things that once might only have been in dystopian fiction, look no further than our present planet at our present moment. What about, for instance, that trillion-metric-ton iceberg -- yes, "trillion" is not a misprint -- that broke loose last week from the Antarctic Peninsula and just floated away. It was larger than the state of Delaware, capable of filling an estimated 462 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, its volume twice that of Lake Erie. If you want to think in movie terms, then consider this eerie event a trailer for the main feature on its way to screens globally. If significant parts of Antarctica destabilize in the future, you can expect movie titles (given rising sea levels) like So Long, Miami; Zai Jian Shanghai; Ta-ta London; Dag Amsterdam.
Honestly, we're now in a fairy tale world, if by modern fairy tale you happen to mean Game of Thrones after not "winter" but "summer" comes to Westeros. So in the week after Antarctica changed its shape perceptibly, it seems appropriate to turn to TomDispatch regular John Feffer, our expert in global dystopian futures and author of the novel Splinterlands, which we recently published in our new book line. Today, in a rare TD plunge into fiction, he offers a fairy tale from 2050 (the year in which Splinterlands is set). His "Grimm" sister is Rachel Leopold, the wife of famed "geo-paleontologist" Julian West. (They have both appeared at TomDispatch before.) In 2020, he was the one who so presciently predicted the way a rising tide of nationalism led by right-wing populists like our own president, when combined with climate change and other factors, would splinter the international order and create a new, ever more desperate world. With that in mind, let me just mutter, "Once upon a time, in 2017..." Now, close your eyes and imagine the unimaginable, because soon enough that will be our world. Tom
A Fairy Tale from 2050
Donald Trump and the Triumph of Anti-Politics
By John Feffer
Once upon a time, long, long ago, I testified before the great assembly of our land.
When I describe this event to children today, it really does sound to them like a fairy tale. Once upon a time -- a time before the world splintered into a million pieces and America became its current disunited states -- this old woman was a young idealist who tried to persuade our mighty Congress that a monster was stalking the land.
"Did they listen to you, Auntie Rachel?" they typically ask me.
"Oh, they listened to me, but they didn't hear me."
"So, what did you do?"
"I thought and I thought, and I wrote and I wrote, and I put together an even better presentation," I say patiently. "I had to somehow make that monster visible so those mighty people could see it."
"What did it look like, Auntie Rachel?"
"It was invisible, my dear children, but we could feel its hot breath. And we could see the terrible things that it did. It could make the oceans rise. It could make the crops wilt in the fields. Still, we kept feeding this terrible beast."
"It's what the monster demanded. Some monsters want to devour little children. Others insist on young maidens. But this one insisted on tankers of oil and truckloads of coal. Even as it grew, it only demanded more and more."
At this point, the children are always wide-eyed. "What did you do then?"
"I talked to those great people again. And this time I tried even harder to describe the monster." As I slip into the past, the faces of the children become those of long-dead politicians. "I provided more detailed graphs of rising temperatures. I cited statistics on the impact of burning coal and oil and natural gas. I displayed photos of what the melting ice and the surging waters had already done. And then I showed them pictures of what the future would look like: submerged cities, drought-stricken lands, dead seas. They looked and still they didn't see. They listened and still they didn't hear. Great people," I conclude, "are not always good people."