All these beefy Caucasians with guns! (From Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash)

 

All these beefy Caucasians with guns!  Get enough of them together, looking for the America they always believed they’d grow up in, and they glom together like overcooked rice, form integral, starchy little units.  With their power tools, portable generators, weapons, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and personal computers, they are like beavers hyped up on crystal meth, manic engineers without a blueprint, chewing through the wilderness, building things and abandoning them, altering the flow of mighty rivers and then moving on because the place ain’t what it used to be.

The byproduct of the lifestyle is polluted rivers, greenhouse effect, spouse abuse, televangelists, and serial killers.  But as long as you have that four-wheel-drive vehicle and can keep driving north, you can sustain it, keep moving just quickly enough to stay one step ahead of your own waste stream.  In twenty years, ten million white people will converge on the north pole and park their bagos there.  The low-grade waste heat of their thermodynamically intense lifestyle will turn the crystalline icescape pliable and treacherous.  It will melt a hole through the polar icecap, and all that metal will sink to the bottom, sucking the biomass down with it.

From Neal Stephenson’s prescient 1992 cyberthriller Snow Crash.

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