The subject matter was provocatively named, “Our Future – Or is there One?” For all those who knew the speaker, the choice of the title did not come as a major surprise. A fervent and ferocious advocate of environmental conservation and leading proponent of Climate Change, Joanne Chan Ming Choo had taken it upon herself to introduce a paradigm shift in the global thinking underlying global warming. She had made it the foremost mission of her existence to push, peddle, purvey and pile on both facts and pressure with a view to jettisoning dogmas and denting stereotypes.
This also made Joanne the most hated nemesis of the corporate world. Torch bearers of wealth accumulation and beacons of crony capitalism spewed venom and spouted malice at her work. Resorting to tactics ranging from the asinine to the arcane, these modern robber barons were unrelenting in their efforts to act as disruptors of Joanne’s every cause. One favourite and most resorted to tactic involved sending paid hecklers to symposiums where Joanne was a speaker. Hooting, hollering and heckling her at random intervals, the paid purveyors of nuisance caused enough ruckus to usually detract from the matter at review.
Joanne knew today was going to be no different. Attired in an elegant dress with her locks left untied, she slowly took the stage before scanning her audience with a pair of arresting eyes. In a voice that was charming yet determined, she began with the usual introductions and fact spiels that constituted an integral and indispensable part of every talk on Climate Change.
“Drivel” came a harsh voice from the middle of the third row from front. A shrill sound mimicking the hooting of an owl followed from the back. A chorus of “boo boo” succeeded by slow clapping finally made Joanne pause and look away. After a few seconds Joanne, with the help of a few keystrokes projected the following image onto the big screen:
(Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala)
“This ladies and gentlemen is a picture from a theme park at Muhafazat Al Wafran in Kuwait. A place where the sun blazes down in perpetuity. Can you see the snowstorm that is wreaking havoc? The flakes of snow wafting down in slow motion do not represent the cheer of Christmas for the unsuspecting elephant playfully nudging the little house crookedly nesting in the tree. The poor mammal does not know that she just has approximately 63.25 years left on this Planet after which both she and her entire breed will go extinct. Neither does the pack of mice huddling close to one another on the roof of the artificial tree house know that the next 30 hypothermia filled minutes would be the final ones in their lives.”
The discomfiture in the room was now palpable. A few murmurs and whispers were interspersed by a deliberate shuffling of feet and needless repositioning of chairs. “I asked my grandfather, he said there has never been snow before, one local man commented to a newspaper. Everyone is surprised.” Joanne continued unabated. The polar vortex, or stratospheric jet stream, is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both of Earth’s poles. It can expand or shift, sending cold, Arctic air down into many regions. The expansion and shifting of the polar vortex to various degrees is regular occurrence during the winter.
“I implore you to at least pay attention to the elephant in a snow storm even if you are willing to cast a blind eye to the elephant in the room.” A cathartic Joanne was now trembling on stage and unbeknown-st to herself she felt the sting of tears streaming down her cheeks. The deafening silence hung over the room like an invisible shroud of ominous foreboding. After what seemed like an eternity the audience got to their feet as one and now the sound of the frenzied applause was deafening.
This is a piece of fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt.