Tommy Storm is set in 2096 — by which time Earth has changed greatly from the world you know in 2008. Some extracts from Tommy Storm relating to how Earth turns out in 2096 are set out below...
The Great Climate Enhancement happened during the 21st century. Over 25 years, sea-levels soared, leaving only the highest mountain-peaks visible. All wars stopped (since who’d bother invading a land that would be under-water in a matter of years?) and everyone started constructing tall — and I mean TALL — (water-tight) buildings. Trouble was, these buildings took forever to construct, they weren’t very stable and there was nowhere to put a garden shed. November 6, 2006.
These problems were solved when a young kid, Denise LeMenise, suggested floating buildings. As she explained in her Nobel Prize acceptance speech: ‘The idea came to me in the bath, after attaching a rubber duck to the chain on the end of the bathplug.’
And so, thousands of floating buildings were produced, some the size of Wales. Great dome structures were erected over groups of these buildings and together they became known as floating cities. Wars started up again when various groups started arguing about who had the biggest or flashiest floating city. After much bickering, it was agreed that floating cities could not name themselves after historical countries or continents and, instead, they compromised and named themselves after different types of cheese.
For many kids studying history in 2096, it was hard to believe that a little bit of pollution — a few chimneys here, a few cars there — had actually caused Earth’s climate to change irrevocably (and had turned Pongy into a respectable name for a city). But sadly, it was so.
In 2096, it was 34°C throughout planet Earth at all times. The sky was never visible through the permanent layer of clouds, it drizzled constantly and there was no wind. (Unsurprisingly, weather forecasters found it difficult to make a living.)
You may not be surprised to learn that‘The Sun WON'T Come Out Tomorrow!’ was 7-times voted Earth’s most annoying song.
In 2096, over 50,000 people — a pretty average number — reported seeing a bird in the sky, even though all birds had been extinct for many years.
After The Great Climate Enhancement, adults believed that children had enough difficulty adapting to floating cities without worrying about huge things like space. The clouds had blotted out the stars for a reason. And once the space-people of the Milky Way contacted Earthlings, adults felt that it was even more important to keep all talk of space hush-hush. Children would be frightened to death if they learned that intelligent beings existed beyond Earth.
For some unknown reason, Tommy had always dreamed about travelling into space. It had a strange pull on him. He felt that Earth was like a little hut, with all its windows covered in cotton-wool. There must be something huge and unknown out there. And the unknown was more exciting than frightening. You see, due to Earth’s constant cloud cover, Tommy didn’t even know that space is black and that the stars look white. If truth be told, he imagined space as being like a giant beanbag — Earth being just one bean alongside millions of other planets all squished very closely together.
The next planet on the movie was one that Tommy didn’t recognise. It was white and blue from a distance, but up close it had valleys, mountain ranges, towns, cities and forests.
(The pictures and facts about Earth that Tommy was watching were, unbeknownst to him, from 2002.)
When the voice-over next spoke, it came as a shock to Tommy.
‘Welcome to planet Earth. Home to over six billion people.’
Tommy couldn’t believe it, but he stifled the urge to speak and concentrated even harder on the pictures before him.
The film gave lots of facts that were new to Tommy. He’d never seen a mountain or a tree or a pair of clogs before. He became mesmerised by the beauty of the place — the variety of scenery, the diversity of wildlife, the way that changing weather could create a thousand different scenes from just one place. It was like seeing an old picture of your elderly mother and suddenly realising how beautiful she’d once been.
That was the moment that Tommy fell in love with Earth. In fact, it was the first time he’d ever felt a deep connection to his own planet. What an extraordinary feeling. He felt like he was floating on air (which he was).
‘If we destroy this planet, we will only be doing a job that humans believe to be their birthright. They don’t like the planet. They pillage it for resources, which they either burn or war over. They don’t like each other… They are happy to kill for material possessions or to claim chunks of land as their own. Humans are never satisfied. They always want what they don’t have and whatever they do have, they take for granted… although they still want more of it…’
The film continued with the depressing commentary. By the end of it, Tommy was still in love with the planet, but ashamed of his fellow humans. The screen went blank for a second, then the colours started bubbling and fizzing as the goo started crawling into the centre of the window. Eventually, there was just a small ball of multi-coloured goo stuck to the middle of the window and the vista of space was visible once more.
‘Super-nova,’ said Summy, ‘quite mad you humans are.’
And so Tommy described The Great Climate Enhancement that had affected planet Earth in the 21st century. It had its roots in the 20th century, but the pollution, selfishness, wilful neglect and ignorance of the people had irreversibly changed Earth’s climate and brought about the extinction of millions of animals and plant forms. Now future generations would no longer enjoy the natural weather conditions or living beauty that their ancestors had cherished. What a phenomenon! Natural weather conditions for millions of years then — BOOM! — man changed an entire planet’s climate and ecosystem in the blink of an eye.
A few people clapped when Tommy finished, but Lady M just looked at him coldly.
‘Why, that proveth how stupid and short-sighted humans doth be,’ she said and took a snort from her lapel.
And Tommy did feel extremely stupid — whether it was for telling the story or whether it was felt on behalf of his species who’d ruined Earth, he wasn’t sure.
(c) 2006 A.J. Healy