When Fiction Becomes Fact

Image result for city in a desert
Photo from The Wall Street Journal.

I’m With the Bears is a collection of short fiction stories that portray a potential future life on Earth. Although these stories are fiction, they provide a window into how life could be if we fail to act. The short story The Tamarisk Hunter takes place along the Colorado River. In this futuristic US, California has won and bought 4.4 million acre feet of water rights from the Colorado River and consequently the basin upstream has become uninhabitable. They have build unimaginable infrastructure to provide adequate comfort and amenities to Californians, while people upstream suffer.

While this story is indeed fiction, it is based on truth. Water scarcity and water rights are current and very important issues that impact people every year. Cape Town, South Africa nearly reached Day Zero last year. Countries surrounding the Jordan River, including Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, struggle with water scarcity, and the political implications of water allocation. Farmers in the western US who don’t hold senior water rights have been suffering in drought years because they aren’t receiving adequate water supply for their crops. These problems are here after only one degree Celsius of global temperature rise. I don’t think that the environment in The Tamarisk Hunter is too far off from how Earth will look after two, three, or four degrees of temperature rise.

We could all learn something from fiction. These stories provide a glimpse into the future without having to live through it. While we have made mistakes that have brought us to the place we are today, we don’t have to continue making mistakes. If we can read fiction such as I’m With the Bears, and understand it more as fact than fiction, than we can avoid situations such as that portrayed The Tamarisk Hunter.

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