The message rolled out in an orchestrated wave that rose with the sun in cities around the world. It appeared on highway billboards, on hoardings beside city streets, in newspapers, and on radio and TV. Online news sources carried the story, as did the Twittersphere and other social media channels.
The message to worldwide governments was terse. Make concrete progress on reducing carbon emissions in the next forty days or face serious consequences.
Governments responded with bluster. They vowed to track down and destroy the ecoterrorists responsible for the messages and waxed poetic about the wondrous progress they’d made tackling global warming.
An outspoken environmentalist expressed a commonly held view. “I question the secrecy of the person transmitting the message and deplore the implied threat. But they’re demanding governments take action they should have taken years ago. Take their challenge as inspirational, an incentive to do the right thing for the environment.”
They arrested her, charged her with sedition, and she disappeared.
During the morning commute on day forty-one, automobiles in Sydney, Australia, suddenly lost power. Roads became littered with dead cars and traffic ground to a halt. Over the next few hours, the phenomenon hit Asian cities. Ten hours later, when it reached Europe, many avoided the problem by leaving their cars at home. Later still in North America, security forces blocked the highways, only admitting buses, trucks, and electric vehicles. Uncontrolled city streets turned into impromptu parking lots.
Tristan leaned on their apartment’s balcony railing. “Better ride my bike to work.”
“Nothing new,” Hope replied, smiling. “You always take your bicycle.”
He pointed at the snarled traffic. “Definitely something new. Cars abandoned pointing every whichaway with drivers walking away.”
“Is this the threat associated with last month’s mysterious ultimatum?”
“No way! Sabotaging cars everywhere isn’t possible?”
“But it’s happening. Will their ploy work, inspire government action?”
He shook his head. “Inspire? Sorry, I can’t accept inspirational threats.”
“For years, governments provided inspirational statements and precious little action. We need genuine progress.”
“But can we trust an unknown entity with undisclosed superpowers?”