"Citizens are strongly urged to remain at home for the time being until local news advisories indicate otherwise. Concentrated toxic air blown from the east Pacific will make landfall at approximately 7:00am and should dissipate by around 3:00pm. Make all efforts to close all windows and doors at your home..."
With an unceremonious click, I turn the television off. Not again
, I think to myself. How am I going to catch up on two days' worth of missed lectures?
I set down my messenger bag and unpack. First, my lunch - dehydrated and frozen - and place it gingerly back into the freezer. Then, I take out all my lecture material.
A thought occurs. How is this going to affect my chances at tenure?
My research programme has stalled for the past few months (after all, no one really is banging down the doors of a scholar who specializes in Restoration and eighteenth-century literature). My latest manuscript was rejected from yet another publisher and my newest article won't be published for a few months. The department head, I suspect, is under pressure from the dean to cut the dead wood...and I wonder if I'm next on the chopping block. I blame the government - budget cuts to arts and culture. I guess that`s the price of a public healthcare system, even a failing one.
Looking back, I really should have picked a career in science. Look at them! No shortage of biotechnology jobs, not since that new global corporation took the world by storm. That, and the unmitigated pollution problem -- I could have found myself living a comfortable job, maybe with a wife and a kid by now. Instead, I'm still living in a bachelor suite near the university, my best suit threadbare and moth-eaten.
Or I could have become a international business lawyer, hedging my bets by learning Chinese and returning to the homeland of my ancestors.
Ah! A book tumbles to the floor. I`ll pick it up later.
I always knew China would be the future of the world economy and industry, but they had moved so quickly
! Cars by the tens of thousands, all suddenly ignited at the same time. Trees the world over gave one collective sigh, then fell by the wayside as lumberjacks cut them off at the knees. Now, pollution aggregates somewhere slightly south of Japan from the eastern Asian seaboard before quietly, but quickly, flying over a desert of an ocean to the west coast of North America. Seattle has it worst (at least, those who remained after the first plague wind) but Vancouver`s still bad, if tolerable.
I`m done unpacking. I give a sigh. They tell me no one can really see into the future, but that hindsight is 20/20. I'm inclined to believe it's true.
Oh. I recognize that tinkly tone...a call? Who could it be?
Alexander Pope once said that "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing," so the trick is always to educate the public (who don't have a background in food security, in issues of agriculture, etc.) with enough knowledge (and making accessible the knowlege of the academy) to empower them, without losing too much of the science along the way.
Hope that clears things up!