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Atlantis From Space


By William Thomas



Way out on a mothership orbiting the dying red star Betelgeuse, an intergalactic philosopher-historian playfully calling herself “Playdough” after an ancient Greek teacher is telepathically explaining why Earth is the "Last Atlantis"...


“Don’t you mean the Lost Atlantis?” the reporter asks, waving all six arms.


Last! Playdough silently shouts. She hands over her quantum telescope, a gift from the Council. See for yourself. Humans are in the process of causing their own extinction. They’ve cranked up the climate until it’s changing 10-times faster than at any other time in the past 65 million Earth years!


The reporter holds up four ‘hands’ in a “stop” gesture. To no avail.


Did you catch that story in the Guardian where Ahmed Djoghlaf, Secretary-General of the UN, says, ‘What we are seeing today is a total disaster: 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the ‘natural’ or ‘background’ rate and…’


“Old news,” the reporter breaks in. “That was seven years ago. Our sensors show…”


And hominids think they’re so sophisticated because they wear ties and push-up bras and can turn keys that will turn their planet into Venus! Playdough’s mind screams. Mother Aldebaran knows she’s endured enough of their “teevee”.


“That’s not very nice,” the reporter demurs. “Lots of people are recycling their empties, solar panels are sprouting up like, like… sunflowers. More and more hominids are even talking about stopping eating cows, not flying through the stratos-fear, and trading their carbon-burning conveyances for electric bicycles and wingsuits. Some are even doing it. A lot, actually. Give or take.”


What’s not very nice is that Earthlings are deep into their very own mass extinction. And most of them don’t even know it.


“Just like the legendary Atlantis.”


Don’t laugh. James Hansen – the former top NASA scientist who warned the world about the dangers of turning an entire planet into a hothouse – is all over Atlantis. The crone pulls out her crystal communicator, reverse-engineered from old Star Trek movies. Listen to this…


Our civilization is built on coastlines...” Relayed by a string of Sylph-class beacons, Hansen’s voice comes through in remarkably high-fidelity, given the distance involved and Earth’s crappy transmitters.



“By burning fossil fuel, we have already begun to unleash the vast quantities of water locked up in glaciers as ice. That melt has already begun raising sea levels, which are preparing for an invasion of our coastal communities the likes of which modern humans have never encountered.”


“What about equal amounts of ocean thermal expansion?” interjects the reporter. “We know…”


Wait! Playdough motions the ‘kid’ to shut up. “This will blow your minds,” she says aloud.


‘We are, in effect, creating a world where there won't be just one Atlantis, but many,’ Hansen’s voice continues. ‘A world where thriving cities are invaded not by barbarians or battalions, but by the same waters that first facilitated their growth.’


“’Thriving’?” The reporter perks up. “What’s his deal?”


The revered historian-philosopher taps “Fpofrp,” then Pweruy” – catching the space man in mid-sentence:


‘... change the energy infrastructure that's fueling this problem. Otherwise, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and three-quarters of the biggest cities on the planet should prepare for life underwater.’


“He left out what comes next,” the reporter remarks. “In The Revenge of Gaia – which we tried to teleport from Amazon and ended up with the entire warehouse – Lovelock tenders the unhappy prospect that if they do not radically and immediately slash their greenhouse effluent, the human race will be reduced to, quote, ‘a few breeding pairs’." The reporter shrugs one of his shoulders. “They’ve been there before.”



“Climate change may be inconvenient for some and fatal for many, but climate shift is a bitch,” the philosopher-historian declares. Switching to mind meld, she continues: About 135,000 and again 90,000 Earth years ago, Eastern Africa experienced a seriesof severe droughts that scattered the human survivors, driving their populations down to just a few hundred beachcombers in each band. Perhaps 2,000 persons total. And only some of them breeding pairs. Both times, humanity wobbled over the eternal abyss.


“I know what happened next,” the reporter says. “Frantically fornicating humans were just popping out of that population bottleneck when ash from the erupting Toba super-volcano shrouded Earth, triggering a ‘volcanic winter’ that fewer than 15,000 severely traumatized homo-sapiens survived. I recorded the Earthling’s recent Genographic conference talking about this. Check it out…”


‘Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction.’


“That was a hominid named Meave Leakey – not Mary Leakey – a paleontologist and Genographic adviser.”


How close did that Indonesian imbroglio come?


“Lemme check my… here we are: ‘As few as 2,000 humans were left alive from Toba’s climactic and climatic aftereffects’.”


He flashes a sickly grin. “Here we go again. And no super-volcanoes this time. Yet.”


A 200-foot sea-rise on Earth should do it. How about humans vacuuming the seas, while poisoning their fast-diminishing water supplies and their crops – already withering in places like Africa, Australia, Texas and California – as they teeter-totter on the tip-top of a SABOTAGED BIO-WEB!”


“You don’t have to shout,” the reporter pouts. “I know what climate change is.”


“Forget climate change already! There is no more dadgum ‘climate change’!”


With an effort, Playdough dials back the telepathic volume, thinks, Gotta stop watching those stupid John Wayne reruns.


The reporter looks up, startled.

What you’re looking at is ACD, Playdough silently instructs. Climate change is when you slowly squeeze the firing stud on your replica blunderbuss. Abrupt Climate Disruption is when the thing blows up in your face. That’s what we’re seeing now on Earth. 

All the atmospheric, oceanic and geologic forces those denial-addled… addicts… have set in motion are amplifying each other in at least 40 self-reinforcing feedback loops. And going exponential. 


“You mean like the ‘Great Dying’ that nearly took out very living creature on Earth 250 million years ago? My grandfather was tasked with monitoring our last drone that hadn’t gotten munched by a pterosaur.


That’s the place. What humans call the Permian Mass Extinction was triggered by prolonged massive lava flows that boosted temperatures high enough to melt all the frozen methane under the tundra and seafloor. And there was a lot of methane.


“Than what happened?” asks the reporter, patting six pockets at once for a laser pencil.


Once released into the atmosphere, those super-heat-trapping gases caused temperatures to skyrocket 6 degrees Celsius. That’s right off all known scales for Earth-like habitability. The ocean covering most of that planet croaked. And hydrogen sulfide gas from all that rotting sealife wafted far inland, turning the air green and snuffing most survivors. But they don’t teach that.


“My grandpa said it was so horrific he asked to be taken off drones. He estimates at least 95% of all species were wiped out.”


Permanently, adds Playdough. Don’t forget ‘permanently’. It took that decimated planet many millions of years to invent new life-forms. Big mistake, since primates resulted. That’s a long recovery time if it happens again. Especially for spoiled humans used to quick fixes and instant gratification.


“So now I suppose you’re going to tell me all those tailpipes, jet exhausts, smokestacks, wildfires and backyard barbecues are putting more carbon into Earth’s atmosphere than all those volcanoes you mentioned going off in the whatchamacallit – Siberian Traps. Good name, eh? So, tell me something not in my implants.” 


If you watched some of the Earth science sites instead of all those ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes, you’d know that Abrupt Climate Disruption is once again well underway on that pale blue dot, Playdough silently remonstrates. If that’s even a word.


While everyone there’s arguing about carbon, methane bubbling up from thawing permafrost, undersea clathrates, frenzied fracking, and 1.4 billion cow farts every few minutes is going, yes, exponential. And trapping more than 100-times more heat than CO2 over the first few decades of releases. Which is all the time they’ve got left before everything goes critical. Most of that methane’s heating the Arctic, FYI, where most of that oddly organic planet’s fast-thawing methane resides.


The reporter is feverishly keying notes into the 3-D notepad he’s borrowed from the professor. But not even a six-handed scribe can keep up with stream-of-telepathy.


Over the same time-span, Playdough ploughs ahead, nitrogen oxide from gaseous tsunamis of farm fertilizers, vehicle exhausts, and all those cheap flights to Mexico and climate change conferences is busy trapping 300-times more heat than CO2. And all that NOx in the ‘stratosfear’ as you so rightly call it, is eroding that space colony’s solar radiation shielding.


Only most humans bemused by Star Wars don’t realize they’re onboard a space colony surrounded by the cold irradiated vacuum of deep space. Where we can live quite happily. And they can survive for about 15 seconds.”


“Let me guess,” Ed says. “With desperate Atlantean geoengineers radically ramping up sunlight-reflective aerial spraying, this is not going to end well.”


No guesswork required, Playdough pontificates. A respected Canadian climatologist named Paul Beckwith is trying to warn everyone lulled by the ‘slow and gradual’ misconception of ‘climate change’ that – surprise! – they could be pulling the trigger on a 6-degree Celsius temperature spike – in a single decade!


“Some like it hot.” 


Wipe that smirk off your carapace. Another 4C rise means no more crops, which means no more habitat, which means no more hominids. At least, not that many. And they won’t be happy camping in the ruins.


“2C is locked in, regardless,” the reporter reports. “3C is probable. And once that threshold’s crossed, from there to 4’s a mandible-snap. Even 6. Or…


But Playdough’s not going there. Can’t go there. She’s had the compassion module installed.


I’m not going to say, ‘When I was your age…




But I recall 55 million years ago when a 5-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures occurred on Earth in an unlucky 13 years. That’s – what? – 10 degrees inland. Celsius, I said. Of course, I implored the Council to do something. And of course, all our grippers were zip-tied. Now they say, ‘Even if it were allowed under treaty, why should we help a world that won’t help itself’?


“But many countries are moving quickly off fossil fuels,” the reporter argues. “Some of the big-name Euro nations are already deriving much of their power from solar. And the biggest EU carmakers are phasing out petroleum-powered cars for all-electric models.”


“So where are all the electric cows?” Playdough wants to know. “Remember, it was the high priests of Atlantis who got in everybody’s face to block all chances of comprehensive climate, social and militarist reforms. And we all know that in the American Atlantis, anti-women, anti-science, bible-thumping fanatics are taking over. But hey, that’s okay. ‘God’ wants them to imitate the Taliban.”


“You must mean the religious-right-riddled federal government that refuses to spend any more ‘crazy money’ on the climate change ‘hoax’ that’s already bankrupting states through extreme weather damage. And regularly submerging downtown Miami.


“Trump’s shoreside playpens aren’t far away,” the reporter rushes on before Playdough can think a response. “Even so, under the cover of his daily distractions, his mad minions have already slashed spending on every program needed for that other Atlantis to adapt to rising seas and a stormy warming world, while reining in its own climate impacts.”


“Very Atlantean,” Playdough proffers.


“Meanwhile, Michael Oppenheimer, a highly-placed Princeton scientist, says the US of – I guess that must be ‘A’ for the other ‘Atlantis’ – has cost every creature on the planet their last shot at staving off Abrupt Climate Disintegration,” the reporter remarks. “Or whatever.


“By discouraging disadvantaged countries from tackling greenhouse emissions, Oppenheimer says it’s ‘highly unlikely’ they can hold warming to another two-degrees C. Here’s the quote: ‘The Trump action pushed us over the edge, and basically Trump owns the responsibility now for this problem’.”


“I doubt if he’ll ‘own’ any responsibility for anything,” Playdough says. “He’s an American, after all. I caught that article in Atlantis magazine. Or was it The Atlantic? Same difference.”


Inaudibly, she adds: This Oppenheimer explains that with the American Atlantis no longer contributing to the Green Climate Fund, emerging economies like India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil – that collectively could be emitting mega-carbon over the next critical decades will be ‘inhibited’ from affording the most effective technologies to bring their emissions down. Or, better, avoid them altogether.


“He didn’t say that last part.”


“What he meant to say is that a small clique in that other Atlantis just condemned their own island to destruction. If not the entire planet.”


“On the record, you’re saying the catastrophic Earth Changes already underway are unstoppable.”


“That’s right. But you can’t report that. If one of those nosy radio-telescopes at Arecibo picks up your broadcast, it could incite panic among the hominid herds. Not that they’ll ‘believe’ that noose-tightening reality. But because it will confirm that we ‘space aliens’ are real. Putting their ancient sky god out of a job. And that will freak most of them out of their skulls.”


“So, what do we do?”


“Stop watching so much FOX News and stop with the trick questions. You know our star is a signatory to the Intergalactic Non-Interference Pact. Besides, blow-torched ice sheets, lunging sea-levels, worldwide crop failures and all those refugees are hardly going to matter.


“Why on Earth not?” asks the reporter, whose 2,576.6-letter-and-digit name is so difficult to say – or remember – he decided to shorten it to Edward R. Morrow II.


“Because, Ed – and I do wish you’d choose a name I could pronounce – one man who can’t even find the limousine parked in front of his nose is about to BLOW UP THE WORLD because some fat boy won’t do what he wants. That’s why!”


Edward R. jumps back. And nearly trips over two of his pseudopods. “Are you, like, okay?” he eventually asks.


“I am not ’like, okay’! We haven’t found another planet with abundant open water, a breathable atmosphere and koala bears out to 200,000 parsecs. Treating that lone blue oasis like a piggishbank and some sort of disposable… toy… is such a STUPID WASTE!”


“You’re referring to America’s recently announced imminent nuclear free-for-all.”


Pick your mode of extinction. Humans seem to have a collective death wish. Maybe we shouldn’t have programmed that in.


The reporter looks up sharply.


“Joke!” says Playdough. “JOKE! Okay? I’m just jerking your whatevers.


“Fine,” says the newly minted Edward R. Murrow II. “Let me jerk yours back. Have you seen this?” He turns the 3D Notepad so its holographic display floats headlines from Earth:


NUCLEAR WAR IMMINENT! –North Korea Government




WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? –U.S. Government


“The Japan Times reports how everyone in Japan jumped after a North Korean missile splashed down 155 miles off the Oga Peninsula,” the reporter explains.

“As residents in western Japan, many of them evacuees trying to distance themselves from Fukushima’s lingering radiation, prepare to ‘quack and cover’, in a phone call to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, Trump denounced ‘continued belligerence’ and actions he considered ‘dangerous’ and ‘destabilizing’ – though it’s unclear whether he was referring to North Korea or the U.S.A.”


I’ve noticed, Playdough picks up, how Trump has repeatedly warned: ‘North Korea is looking for trouble’ – an especially troubling coincidence since he is, too. The U.S. President (I still have trouble saying that) is once again vowing to take care of the North Korean ‘problem’.


Which begs the question, who will take care of the world’s Atlantis problem?”


“Beijing has one idea,” Edward R. points out. “It’s moved 150,000 troops to its border.”


Do you grok the suicidal game of ‘chicken’? Playdough demands. Where two ground-bound vehicles race at each other head on? What happens if both drivers inhabit separate realities – AND NEITHER CAR SWERVES? 


“North Korea and China have proposed that Pyongyang will end its nuclear weapons program if Atlantis stops threatening them with ‘hostile military maneuvers’ on their border,” Edward R. attempts a calming tone.


But because the U.S. Atlantis thinks it’s supposed to run everything, they rejected that non-violent overture out of hand. So now we find them sulking alone in the corner, scheming how to make things worse. But they never talk about how their growing list of adversaries are simply responding to their own hyper-aggressiveness. Which, of course, they feel compelled to counter.


“Isn’t this what happened last time?” Ed says. “The original Atlantis ran around placing costly garrisons everywhere the locals didn’t want them – then started picking fights with everyone at once.”


Don’t forget the Middle Kingdom, the elderly philosopher urges. Washington still considers the Pacific right up to China’s doorstep, an ‘Atlantean Lake’. So it’s moving half its naval assets into Far Eastern waters.


“And China is pushing back,” Ed finishes. “They get the American notion of Standing Your Ground in your own front yard.”


What about Iran? They’ve got missiles, too.


“You’d think after nearly 16 years of corporately profitable but diplomatically disastrous Middle East wars, the White House would not be pursuing regime change in Iran. Instead, as we converse, American Marines are facing off against an equal-size contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in eastern Syria.


“If Trump – who can’t even remember which country he’s bombed – goes to war against Iran, they must respond with missiles. And that will make the Vietnam, Afghan and Iraqi debacles seem like weddings. Or something.”


Terrific, splutters Playdough. And Russia? Don’t the American Atlanteans remember what happened the last time they attacked a bigger, better equipped nation-state?


“Guess not,” says Edward R. “NATO is deploying four battalions, including armor and strategic bombers, to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – right on Russia’s border. That puts mechanized troops less than a hundred miles from St. Petersburg. And you don’t think every person in that country isn’t thinking, Wehrmacht?


Even worse, the Americans have super-upgraded the accuracy of their nuclear warheads. So, the first-strike they’re constantly discussing could wipe out Russia’s land-based deterrent. The Russians know that if they’re ever seriously threatened, they’ll have to ‘use them or lose them,’ as the saying goes. Which means everyone on Earth is a dead person walking.



“Meanwhile, even as we build up our energy stores by sucking mass ejected from Betelgeuse, the American Atlantis is tapped out,” the reporter observes. “One by one, their states are becoming insolvent. This means they can no longer pay for firefighting, policing, pensions, teachers, climate shift responders – the things that hold a human society together. Along with logic, reason, reflection and civility.”


Playdough ponders. Says aloud: “Not good when a declining empire grows frustrated and desperate. Too often, they decide to pull the temple down on their heads. And Earth is a temple.”


Edward R. Murrow II finds himself nodding again. “Besides enshrining violence as their main entertainment and sole diplomatic tool, the final factor that earned the original Atlantis the ire of the gods who had given those ingrates everything, only to see their gestures insulted and their beneficence squandered – was the ‘D’ word.”


Runaway decadence will do it every time, Playdough mentally sighs. As my guy in Greece kept saying: Consider how Atlantis, with just a fraction of the world’s humanity, gobbled up most of the planet’s remaining resources and blew it out their…




“Thank you. Exhausts.” Playdough bows to the reporter. “The other Atlanteans whine like two-year-olds, tromp on everyone and see themselves as victims, exploit their less-privileged neighbors, avoid confronting their own faults by projecting them onto others, and loudly condemn anyone offering the mildest suggestions as ‘anti-Atlantean’. Does that about cover it?”


“Just about,” says Ed. “But what’s really dangerous – what’s sealing their doom – is that most modern Atlanteans don’t want to know. They’re spreading their stolen picnic lunch on the tracks and if you helpfully point out that at least 15 trains are converging on that spot and they might want to get out of way, they start accusing you of being ‘too negative’. Then they call you, ‘anti-American’. As if they aren’t anti-everyone else.”


Sounds like Atlantis, all right.


“Meanwhile, the American Atlanteans are guzzling 80% of opioids consumed on their planet. Everyone complains that they’re broke. And most of them are. Yet, they manage to spend $124 billion a year on opioids, pot, cocaine, methamphetamine and smack. Also…”


Ed checks his notes…


“One in 13 adult American humans meets the clinical definition for an alcoholic. I can’t speak for adult octopi. But I wouldn’t be surprised that given what’s happening to them, our organic assembly templates would prefer to be blotto, too.” 


You haven’t mentioned soaring suicide rates. You’re saying that one way or another many of the American Atlanteans are checking out because they can’t handle what they’re doing and what they’ve done. Including trashing their children’s natural inheritance.

“Oh, no,” the reporter says. “That’s much too introspective, responsible and un-individualistic. It’s simpler than that. The other Atlanteans are freaking out because everything that appears to be collapsing, is collapsing.”


So many of them compulsively play the slots because they’re…


“‘Because it’s all so narcotizing’. That’s Chris Hedges talking. Dubbed electronic heroin, pulling levers on slot machines is, he learned, all about ‘creating somnambulism, putting a player into a trancelike state that can last for hours.’


I don’t like where this is going, Playdough protests.


“Hedges also talks about everyone escaping into their screens.”


Geezer’s prerogative, Playdough interrupts. Please stop. This isn’t a dialectical duel in some aromatic grove in ancient Athens. You are describing insane behavior.


“Worse,” corrects Edward R.Murrow II. “Hedges says this ‘yearning’ for a state of oblivion is Freud’s death instinct – an ‘overpowering drive by a depressed or traumatized person’ – or an imploding nation – ‘to seek pleasure in a self-destructive activity that ultimately kills the organism’. And most likely, I might add – so I will – every living being around them.”


Playdough looks grim. “Now that behaviour,” she vocally concludes, “is definitely Atlantean.”


“So that’s it?” the reporter says. “You’re the best we’ve got and that’s all you got?”


Playdough pauses, running through 250,000 possible permutations per second. “Mmm. Actually, no matter how they end up doing it, crashing a one-of-a-kind space colony could be considered a criminal act.”


The reporter’s eyes light up. Literally. “So, we can intervene?”


“Well...” Playdough’s learned from the terrible fate of her namesake’s sidekick – and her own clash with the Council – not to get involved in politics.


“I suppose we could convince the Council to arrest them all,” Edward R. muses. “But what do we do with 7.4 billion prisoners, many of them not even potty trained? Put them on trial for ‘crimes’ most of them will swear they aren’t committing? Put them to work growing argsthoywoty? How will they use our implements with only two hands? Which they’ll insist they have to reserve for texting.”


“Let me sleep on it,” says Playdough, escorting the ancient ‘young lad’ to the cabin’s portal. Also copied from Hollywood, it irises open to f 1.8 as they approach.


The reporter turns. “That’s another joke, right? That you sleep?”


“Sleep. Recharge. Stay up all night watching teevee when I know there’s no way those Captain Kangaroo transmissions should reach us for another 560 Earth years… I think I have to go home now.”


“You are home,” the reporter points out.


“Oh. Right. So I am. Then you go home. And leave this old ‘space sister’ in peace.”



 Space shuttle ‘Atlantis

Part 1:



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