The disaster is still coming, in the future, but maybe it has already slipped in behind us. A cloudy, semi-tropical sogginess hangs over October, as it hung over September, raising mildew in the bathrooms and making the wooden doors swell and stick. Autumn is like a place we’ve been forced to leave with barely any notice, a lost homeland: remember the way the light was abundant and clear? Remember how we would put on sweaters there, as the air turned keen and crisp?
The catastrophe is and will be a technological catastrophe. We live in a time when science and engineering are exalted above the humanities, when unprecedented fortunes go to the leaders of what calls itself the tech industry, as planetary ruin unfolds with no one particularly working to figure out how to stop it. In its advanced state, our society has trained and recruited and gathered together the world’s most prodigious collection of technical minds, and they have spent the last two or three generations working with unshakeable purpose and focus to make it so that each of us has a computer telephone in our pocket that constantly spies on us for the benefit of advertising agencies.
Would you like to escape? Today someone paid someone to put an advertisement on one of the social networks, promoting a slideshow list of what someone or other has chosen as the nation’s ten best beaches. Using our advanced technology, it is possible to look up the beaches in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Level Rise Viewer, and to imagine what will happen if we visit them, or try to visit them, in the future—when the sea levels have risen three feet, or six feet, or more, if you want. You can use your pocket phone-computer to watch them move ahead through time below.