Filed under: alt-future, climate change, deep time, futurism, Hot Earth Dreams, Speculation, Uncategorized, Worldbuilding | Tags: alt-future, Deep Future, Hot Earth Dreams
Actually, as a thought experiment, I started playing with what California might look like in the High Altithermal, from about 2100 CE to about 3600 CE. It’s more complicated than I’d initially thought, of course. If it’s something you’re interested in, contribute your ideas in the comments, and I’ll work them (or some of them, anyway) into the next blog post or two.
In the meantime, here’s a future that I’m pretty sure won’t happen. The idea is that US history will parallel Roman history, with the eastern US playing the western Roman empire, Washington DC playing Rome, and the western US playing the Eastern Roman Empire.
I gave an overview of the transformation of the Roman empire in Hot Earth Dreams in Chapter 17, and the idea is that the Roman Empire proved ungovernably large, and Rome proved ungovernably corrupt, so Constantine moved the seat of power to Constantinople around 330 CE, and his sons split the empire into the Eastern and Western empires. The western empire collapsed in 476 CE, while the Eastern empire transformed over time into the Byzantine empire and survived until 1453 CE.
Following this analogy over-faithfully, the US capitol moves west as the (south)eastern US is devastated by increasing heat, black flag weather, rising seas, and the collapse of civilization in the face of such disasters. In this case, they move the capitol ultimately to perhaps Portland, although someone might argue that Fairbanks or somewhere near Anchorage might be a better site. Washington DC gradually falls into ruin before being swallowed by the Atlantic, and what’s left of American culture shifts west, while statelets in the east fight over who gets to rebuild America.
Culturally, Byzantium wasn’t Rome. They were Christian, spoke Greek, and practiced Medieval-style warfare. In this alt-future, we can mimic the same shift by, um, let’s see, having western Americans speaking Spanish or Spanglish (except when reading law and science, which would be in English), and mimicking the feudal social structure with something like an unholy mashup of drug cartel culture and west coast capitalism, with CEOs instead of counts and Cartel leaders instead of dukes. Since a lot of feudalism came from Rome adapting the culture of the migrating tribes of Celts and Germans, this isn’t entirely as stupid as it sounds. “Celts” as a group were probably as polyglot as today’s Latinos are, and had to experience similar levels of prejudice within the Roman Empire (for example, having red hair in Rome was probably akin to being black in America). Note that I’m not implying that today’s Latinos are in any way barbarians, nor that the drug cartels are the best that Latino culture has to offer. I’m more thinking of what is a Latino analogy to the old Celtic and Germanic warbands. If you think that Latino culture has something better and more resilient to give to the future, let me know in the comments.
In any case, if the USA broke down somewhere in the 22nd century, then the Western American Empire (“Alta Mexica?”) might last for another thousand years.
Now I don’t think the US will replay Rome, so this scenario is presented as a bit of a spoof of the idea that US history will mirror the history of the Roman Empire. It looks like it could, just maybe, work, so if anyone wants to use it in a story, please be my guest. If you’ve got anything you want to contribute (comments or ideas), please share those too.
Now that I’ve got that scenario out of my brain, in the next blog entry (or three) I’ll look at California in the High Altithermal, Hot Earth Dreams style, with temperatures spiking over the next ~300 years, sea levels rising over the next ~1600 years, civilization and populations crashing, and everything migrating. How long might the US hold together, will it fragment, what happens with Mexico, and all that are questions that need to be answered, along with lifeways, transportation, where the settlements are, and so forth. If you’ve got ideas, put them in the comments, and let’s see what we can come up with.
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