As the Snowflakes Melted | Sunday Observer

As the Snowflakes Melted

28 May, 2023

Part 2: The Wolf is Loose
Chapter one

China funds ambitious mega city projects to shelter climate refugees

China is taking a proactive approach to accommodate climate refugees from the Northern Hemisphere by funding mega city projects across Asia. Known as "Project Fortress," these cities will feature insulated skyscrapers arranged in a grid pattern with self-sustaining human habitats. To protect its inhabitants, each city will be enclosed by a circular wall several miles thick.

The project is seen as a timely solution to the worsening ice age crisis, which has forced millions of people from the global North to seek refuge in warmer regions. However, the project has come under criticism as it is primarily reserved for people from North America, Europe, and affluent parts of Asia, leaving those from the global South to fend for themselves.

Despite the criticism, Project Fortress is creating thousands of jobs and is expected to attract millions of people from the North in the coming years. The Chinese government has hailed it as a model for sustainable and efficient urban development.

Similar mega cities funded by tech moguls and oil-rich Middle Eastern countries are also being built in the Arabian and Sahara Deserts. The projects are expected to provide a much-needed boost to the global economy, but critics warn of potential environmental and social consequences.

Shalini sat at the kitchen table, watching her mother as she stirred the pot of steaming dhal. The small kitchen was filled with the scent of spices and warm bread, and outside the window, the cold rain fell in a steady rhythm. It had been a year since they had moved to Awisawella, and life had changed in ways that Shalini could never have imagined.

"Amma, have you heard about this new Chinese project in Colombo?" Shalini asked, breaking the comfortable silence.

Her mother turned to look at her with a curious expression. "What project, duwey?"

"They're expanding Colombo into a mega city to accommodate more climate refugees," Shalini explained. "Appachchi is working on it, remember?"

Her mother nodded, her expression thoughtful. "Yes, I remember. I didn’t know it was Chinese project. He's been working long hours on that project. It's good to see that he's doing well, though. We're lucky to have a steady income in these times."

Shalini nodded, her mind drifting to the stories she had heard about the unrelenting cold weather in the north. She couldn't imagine what it would be like to live in a world where snow and ice covered everything.

"Do you think more people will move here, Ammi?" Shalini asked, her voice soft.

Her mother sighed, her gaze distant. "I don't know. But we'll have to make room for them if they do. We were lucky to find this place when we did."

Shalini nodded, knowing that her mother was right. They had been lucky to find their small home on the outskirts of Avisawella. It was cramped and the roof leaked when it rained, but it was better than the overcrowded cities where many refugees now live.

As they sat in silence, the rain continued to fall outside. Looking out the window Shalini notices the faint outlines of skyscrapers out of the cloudy haze. The buildings that are coming up in the city make the Lotus Tower, which was once the tallest in South Asia, look puny in comparison.

Shalini shivers as she touches the window, feeling the cold seeping through the glass. She gazes out at the rain that has turned into a drizzle, thinking about how the weather has changed since her family moved to Awisawella. The rain used to be warm and gentle, but now it was icy and harsh.

Shalini turns away from the window and goes to sit by her mother. They talk about the construction project that her father is working on, and how it is part of a larger effort to accommodate the increasing number of climate refugees.

As they finish their meal, Shalini looks out the window once more, watching the distant concrete behemoths rising above Colombo. She wondered what her father could be doing right now.