WINNER: Sci-Fi contest- How the greening of Australia made it the world's superpower
|The jungle around Ayers Rock was noisy with the sound of birds. The view from the rock was of a sea of green, with the skyscrapers of occasional large settlements poking above the landscape, in clearings in the jungle.
"Jack, come down we need to get home."
Jack's wife Deb called to him from 200 meters further down.
Shame I love this view, he thought.
Jack was an Aussie Hydro-engineer. He had worked on the big desalination plants, in Port Augusta, fresh out of uni, and then worked the pipelines and pumping infrastructure to Lake Eyre, for several years. His current job was inland pumping. Basically, he handled the freshwater flows from Lake Eyre, watering the inland areas. Deb was a Green Energy Consultant, she worked in the big fusion plant located under Ayers Rock, in a large subterranean cavern deep underground. They would come up here to Ayers Rock, on the weekend, for the spectacular views, across the green landscape, and the smells and sounds of the jungle below. Jack ran quickly down the hillside and caught up with Deb.
"Why are you in such a hurry to get home, it is the weekend?"
"You know it is Brad Field's funeral today, it is being televised at 3 p.m."
"Oh, I forgot, yes we should not miss that, guess neither of us would have jobs and none of this would exist without him." He waved a hand at the green landscape as he spoke.
"Exactly," said Deb, "So chop chop let us move", doubling her pace.
They reached the rail terminus, at the foot of Ayers Rock, some 15 minutes later, boarding the underground to the nearby Brad City, named after their hero Brad Field. All transport was underground these days and electric. Deb's Fusion plant, and others like it, providing much of the juice, having replaced the original wind farm and solar networks that used to cover much of the Australian desert and outback, from the early days of the Australian Transformation Project. They got to the terminus, at the foot of their giant apartment block, just 5 minutes later, and disembarked, taking the lifts to the 212th floor, to their apartment. A spacious 200 square meters, with a balcony garden, it had an excellent view of Ayers Rock and the green jungle all around it. They rushed into the Living Room, shouting to the Home AI as they did, to turn on the 3D viewer and tune into the funeral. They got pictures of the grand cathedral in Sydney, where the funeral was taking place, and the commentator was speaking about Brad's life, as they waited for the coffin to arrive, millions of people lining the streets, with Australian flags in their hands, waiting for the convoy to appear. The commentator's voice gave some background on Brad Field's life.
"Mr. Fields is best known for the Lake Eyre initiative. He built the solar-powered desalination plants at Port Augusta, pumping at a rate of 7000 cubic meters a second 0of fresh water, some 200 meters uphill, to then flow naturally down gravity-assisted pipelines, across aqueducts and hillsides, all the way to Lake Eyre, which at that time was below sea level. This was a flow equivalent to the size of the Danube river, at the point where that river flows into the Black Sea, off the coast of Europe. A lake, that previously filled only 4 times a century naturally, became the major inland freshwater sea we all know and love today. He also built the waterway, linking the ocean with the inland sea, and opened up the whole of this continent to sea traffic from all around the world. Mr. Fields used the colossal fortune he developed, in his previous business ventures, to fund the project and was widely vilified and mocked for this effort. But as a result of his vision, the inner spaces of Australia became available for habitation and economic development. As forests and farms replaced deserts Australia started sucking in the CO2, that had been warming up the world for a generation and reversed the greenhouse effect. As the Australian population grew we became the superpower, that we are today, with a population 8 times the one that our dry continent had previously been able to sustain and with prosperity unmatched by any other country in the world. This man changed the weather of our continent to make it one of the wettest on the planet, with plentiful freshwater supplies and an abundance and diversity of vegetation unequaled anywhere in the world. We are the breadbasket of the world and our green inner spaces are now a major tourist attraction for visitors from all over the globe. There has perhaps been no man in all history who was so mocked in the early stages of his life and yet who is so praised, as he is today. We wait now in expectation of his coffins arrival, the whole of Australia is waiting, with bated breath, for the man that made this nation the green superpower that it is today."
"There, I see it, it is coming," said Deb, excitedly, tears in her eyes.
Jack put an arm around her, knowing his wife was about to burst into tears and feeling deeply moved. The coffin appeared, followed immediately behind by the Australian Prime-minister and the current Prince of Wales. Various other major political figures, family members, and friends were in the funeral procession. His coffin was carried by 6 beefy medal-winning heroes, from the Australian SAS, masked for the occasion, to protect their anonymity, and fresh from police actions around the world. Australia had long replaced the USA as the leader of the free world.
"Oh look into the sky," said Debs, "Oh that is marvelous."
Lighted drones drew a map of Australia in the sky. A set of alternate drones projected images, above the assembled crowds, of the history of the Australian Transformation Project. Starting with a picture of a yellow desert inland, flashing pictures of the Port Augusta building site in its early stages, and pictures of half-constructed aqueducts. As the images of the progression of the project flashed in the sky, the map of Australia, also projected there, steadily turned greener and greener. Cities appeared around Lake Eyre, ships sailed through the inland waterway and docked in large harbors. Canals spread out watering more and more of the desert allowing more and more cities, farms, orchards, green jungles, and nature reserves. Life flourished, grew, and exploded onto to previously dry and desolate landscapes, until the whole of Australia was green, and major cities blossomed on the new inland waterways, connecting them to cities, that had previously only existed on the coasts. Graphs were shown of water tables filling up, of the numbers and types of species that could now live in these landscapes, of the growth of the Aussie economy and population. It was an amazing unbroken story of success and expansion coupled with clean air, clean energy, an explosion of life, and an end to the toxic wasteful exploitation and desertification of landscapes that had preceded it. The sky presentation ceased, as the funeral procession entered the cathedral, and the whole of Australia watched spellbound at the funeral of Australia's greatest son. Brad Field's eldest son, the current chief executive of the Australia Transformation Project, proudly stood up to give a tearful eulogy.
"We celebrate the life of my father today, we remember a man who was written off by the most important people of his time for the vision he carried in his heart. They told him that what he wished to do was too expensive, that it could not be done. But he sacrificed much of his life and billions of his wealth to make it happen anyway. He mobilized people across the country to realize his vision. My father is my hero, not just because of what he accomplished, but because of how he got there, because of his grit and determination in the face of entrenched interest groups and fierce opposition from people who should have known better. Even the Greens hated him in the early days not understanding how his vision would benefit the environment and save our planet. He has inspired me to believe that anything is possible if we set our minds to it!"
Jack and Deb were literally cheering now, and standing, not sitting, urging the man on, and hanging on his every word. Then the son's voice broke.
"I will miss him, I think we will all miss him", he sobbed, unable to hold back his tears anymore.
And the whole of Australia cracked and cried, in the same moment, so united were they in their grief for this great man, that had changed the world and made it forever green.
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