“Global Warming is already in overdrive; mass migrations of people to the northern steppes and wastes of Europe and North America have put a premium on land and infrastructure, and is being fiercely resisted, especially by the Russians. Smaller colonies are to be found in diminishing numbers at the tips of South America, Africa and even Antarctica. Australia is a wasteland; burnt-out completely in the ‘thirties. Tasmania became un-inhabitable through over-crowding, social conflict, and disease. North Africa, Spain and much of the Mediterranean are now just vast deserts of sand. India is bursting with people in desperate, resigned poverty. China is reeling from natural disasters of an unprecedented scale and ferocity. Japan is swamped, except for the highest mountains and Mount Fuji, too steep to inhabit.
“Flooding has taken place everywhere around the coastal areas of the world, and vast tsunamis have mopped up the people left in the valleys and lower foothills. All nuclear power plants were dismantled years ago, their waste products stored under the Himalayas, Cumbrian mountains, and the French Alps. Tornadoes, hurricanes, monsoons, storms, and blizzards of snow and ice threaten to destroy whole populations on a monthly basis, always somewhere different, always a surprise, though it was pretty obvious it was coming sometime.
“A privileged few first achieved Space Flight over a hundred years ago, but it has since been realised that it is impossible to leave Earth in any great numbers, because of the vast resources required. Even small expeditions to the nearest planets took up the equivalent economy of whole countries. To re-settle the whole world, even if anywhere could be found to go to, would take the resources of many Solar Systems. There just isn’t time, and never will be.
“The over-riding objectives now are to save energy and material, to limit pollution, to eradicate waste, to eliminate pathogens in the most ruthless way, and to try to control the self-perpetuating collapse into oblivion. The obvious solutions of cutting demand, reducing populations by strict birth-control, and living a simpler life, seemed out of reach of people’s comprehension before the environmental collapse, and it’s too late now. Always people want more; to live longer; to fill to capacity any space, any possibility for life, any promise of a solution. Some people think they have achieved it with Oodles; most accept Oodles willingly, blindly; too tired or too ignorant to think for themselves.
“The Caves were one answer. Older people gave up their right to an active life, knowing it could be supplanted with a cybernetic substitute, even more thrilling than anything they had experienced in the past, or could achieve in the future, or so they were told. They sold everything they had in order to buy a space, crystallise their heads, and lie immobile with their atrophied bodies and lifeless limbs, on a shelf in a cave. Their minds were connected to and totally controlled by the Oodles Web; they were perpetually on-line, never even moving their facial muscles, apart from the odd twitch. They had some perception of free-will; they could choose to a certain extent what they wished to think about, watch, read, listen to, or experience. But mostly, subliminal messages and advertising manipulated their tastes and desires. It was easier that way. They were happy, but they didn’t take up much space, or need many resources to keep them alive. Of course, they lived longer, but to some that was seen as an advantage.
“If there is any time left, of course. The over-riding purpose of Oodles – to blast our species into outer space and populate the Universe – is approaching realisation. Entities, much smaller than the “Crystal-Heads”, are even now being engineered at Quartz Mountain, high up in the Rockies. The race is on, before the world collapses in total chaos, a maelstrom of heat and storm; an impossible bubble of insanity circling its mother Sun, waiting to be rid of this version of life, and start again in a few Millennia.”
(PKD’s Blog #3)