A cool easterly winds blows across fertile croplands of northern Sudan bringing monsoon rains off the Indian Ocean to southern Libya. I pick up my pace through the date palms to get to my dorm before the downpour. My burnoose flaps like laundry hung out to dry, but my concentration is on my meteorology lecture. The test is tomorrow, regardless of the weather.
“… In summary, global warming has arrived, not as expected, but with many lessons for Al Jawf University students. The first is, ‘Never ask scientists about the future.’ Scientists are empiricists, data-driven observers; why ask someone who studies the past to predict the future? If you want to know the future, ask the engineers. They know the future. Unfortunately, their predictive powers are restricted to things – like airplanes, nuclear reactors and tall buildings.”
“Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.”
I blink three times and my iPod implant stops. I duck into the Kadafi Student Union, kneel east towards Mecca, and echo, “Allahu Akbar.”
“… Farmers in Canada and Siberia love global warming. Allah smiles on them. Their long-time fallow plains have burst into fertility, just as the traditional mid-latitude bread baskets gave out, even when coaxed with megatons of chemical fertilizer. Sea levels are stable, as equatorial rains increase. Praise Allah, the Sahara shrinks and sub-Saharan lands of famine become lands of fertility and feasting. Elsewhere Lake Bonneville returns, drowning Salt Lake City.”
The rain comes. Water pours off the domes, across the flat roofs, streaming down the walls. Like thousands of desert streams that come and go, these streams meander, evolving and mutating. Some momentarily reach hives bee have drilled into the sandstone walls. The workers swarm to the entrance, blocking it with their dispensable bodies.
“… And polar bears? Who knew? Polar bears dug deep into their genetic storehouse and uncovered a thinner, greener bear that thrives in the northern corn and wheat fields, saving the polar bear, Allah is merciful, and controlling the burgeoning deer populations, Allah is all knowing.”
The grass around the student union is alive with ants harvesting spores washed from the buildings. Ants work quickly, for wasps will soon arrive to harvest ants, followed by purple jays harvesting wasps. Tomorrow when the sun rises, all will have returned home and blue and green mushrooms will ring the building, Allah’s reminder of the miracle of life.
“… Green polar bear? The biggest surprise is the species explosion – scientists compare it to the Cambrian Explosion. New species are everywhere with thousands identified each year, not counting single-cell things like bacteria, algae and yeasts. Most are small insects, worms, spiders and plants, but no week passes without the discovery of something like green polar bears, flying monkeys, giant sea serpents or the Al Jawr date palm, a two meter tall bush that matures in one season and produces a sweet fruit that tastes like balaclava.”
The rain stops and I continue to my dorm. With the sunshine, comes crowds and protests, “Stop Illegal Immigration,” “Libya for Libyans,” and a lone placard “Feed the Children” showing a dirty starving child with the Eiffel Tower in the background. As I walk past the crowd, I pull my burnoose closed, hiding my red hair and freckles. Most of the real students accept me, but these crowds are often filed with paid protesters from the poorer parts of the city.
“… The cause? Heat Shock Proteins, HSPs. In addition to fighting cancer, a declining problem in the Global Warming era, HSPs regulate embryonic development. During times of stress, nature rolls the dice and prays for the best, Allah is all knowing. Birth defects are up among all species, including Homo sapiens sapiens, and the newer Homo sapiens ichthyes with gills and Homo sapiens aves with wings.”
A man carrying a cricket bat steps in front of me, “Salaam.”
I bow my head, “As-salaam alaykum.”
He lifts the bat to his shoulder and shouts, “Euro! Euro!”
I lift my burnoose and run. The bat bounces off my shoulder and I tumble into the fresh mud. Between the angry crowd and a storming drainage channel, I choose the channel. They stand at the edge shouting, “Unclean! Unbeliever!”
I struggle to remove my burnoose, but it quickly absorbs the water and drags me down. In the end I loose this struggle and am sucked into the deep current. Only my gills save me.