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The Fence Against The World by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 2 mars 2021

In the past few weeks, as the pandemic has reduced pollution levels significantly, stories of animals appearing in unusual places, as if to highlight the environmental good our inaction is doing, have circled the globe endlessly. While we’d all like to believe those Lockean ‘bitter streams’ have become unpoisoned, these stories are almost entirely fake.

And yet, the concept of wildlife returning where humanity had once reigned endures, far longer than the real environmental gains we’ve made since we stopped flying one hundred thousand planes every day probably will.

That was the case in 1895, when Herbert George Wells had his narrator tell us of a future where his own house has been replaced by a vibrant garden that flourished in its place. There is, of course, a precedent for this vision, and if the Time Traveller had had more time, and a better year-honing device, this is what he might have seen.

Meet me in 738 CE.

We’re standing on the harbor of the capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles, a truly international city, the same size as London became seven hundred years later. Look at the North Sea, calm, tranquil, endless. The Frisian kingdom is straight across that sea; it’ll become the Netherlands one day. Take a good look around this astonishing city of Dunwich, with its priory, churches, and leper hospital, because over the next five hundred years it’ll slowly disappear forever, swallowed up by the water as great storms batter and finally submerge this grand metropolis. As our time traveler knows, the people of Dunwich lost more than just a house. A fragment of a church is all that now remains, like a tombstone to a lost generation.

Let us travel now, two hundred and fifty years into the future.