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If you’re looking for fairy tales that are on the grim (not Grimm) side, things that once might only have been in dystopian fiction, look no further than our present planet at our present moment. What about, for instance, that trillion-metric-ton iceberg — yes, “trillion” is not a misprint — that broke loose last week from the Antarctic Peninsula and just floated away. It was larger than the state of Delaware, capable of filling an estimated 462 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, its volume twice that of Lake Erie. If you want to think in movie terms, then consider this eerie event a trailer for the main feature on its way to screens globally. If significant parts of Antarctica destabilize in the future, you can expect movie titles (given rising sea levels) like So Long, Miami; Zai Jian Shanghai; Ta-ta London; Dag Amsterdam.
Honestly, we’re now in a fairy tale world, if by modern fairy tale you happen to mean Game of Thrones after not “winter” but “summer” comes to Westeros. So in the week after Antarctica changed its shape perceptibly, it seems appropriate to turn to TomDispatch regular John Feffer, our expert in global dystopian futures and author of the novel Splinterlands, which we recently published in our new book line. Today, in a rare TD plunge into fiction, he offers a fairy tale from 2050 (the year in which Splinterlands is set). His “Grimm” sister is Rachel Leopold, the wife of famed “geo-paleontologist” Julian West. (They have both appeared at TomDispatch before.) In 2020, he was the one who so presciently predicted the way a rising tide of nationalism led by right-wing populists like our own president, when combined with climate change and other factors, would splinter the international order and create a new, ever more desperate world. With that in mind, let me just mutter, “Once upon a time, in 2017…” Now, close your eyes and imagine the unimaginable, because soon enough that will be our world.