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THE DIE-BACK

Dreamed 1998/10/12 by Chris Wayan

The future. Mars is terraformed and settled. I compare photos of Earth deserts with Martian ones. Both now have trees wherever rocks create shelter and water-pockets, but much more scrub and grass on Earth, more sand on Mars. Plants haven't had time to adapt yet to such a difficult niche--sand always moving... They're working on it.

I live on Mars, in the fertile equatorial belt near a newly-built canal. Farm land, mostly.

A new disease is found in one person. It's serious and contagious, but they contain it within the med complex. Then a second outbreak, halfway round Mars! And a third. Even as doctors announce a treatment for it, I'm skeptical and think of earlier times when the population boomed and people were forced into new habitats--like Europe in the 14th century. Plague is the natural consequence. I fear a die-back is in order and all our technology won't stop it.

The treatment only slows the illness down. It mutates and the new form is untreatable and fatal. A crash effort finds a cure within a month. But again, the plague mutates to an immune, lethal form.

And that one spreads to Earth. The die-back begins. In the end, over 90% of Earth's population, possibly as high as 95%, die off, and at least 70% on Mars. Humanity is in no danger of extinction--hundreds of millions survive and are immune now, and the depopulation isn't so extreme that civilization can't maintain itself, though many cities are emptied.

But it was indeed inevitable, and I learned my lesson--don't believe experts who say they've got it fixed.

For history, as well as instincts, say it isn't fixed. Not history, not life, not death. Not fixed at all.

Orbital view of Elysium and Tharsis on the terraformed Mars where I live, in my dream.
NOTES ON WAKING UP The only question is, how long?



LISTS AND LINKS: dream plagues - natural disasters - death - population and carrying capacity - dream advice - political dreams - time-travel - other worlds - Mars

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