I am currently writing about a city that has been reclaimed by nature, a sort of Chernobyl in the tropics. These places fascinate me as they are examples of how mankind’s footprint can be covered over and eventually erased.
My city is a semi-tropical one that has undergone the ravages of climate change before eventually giving in and giving up. It is where Evie, Mother and the last survivors find themselves after being washed up by the frequent tidal waves. To their astonishment there are the remains of a huge city that had been almost entirely reclaimed by the jungle; an example of mankind’s imperminence.
Archaeologists have uncovered dense urban centres that would have been home to up to 10,000 inhabitants along riverbanks, with fields and cultivated orchards of Brazil nuts, palm and fruit trees stretching for tens of kilometres. Remote sensing has revealed extensive earthworks, including cities, causeways, canals, graveyards and huge areas of ridged fields that kept crops like manioc, maize and squash clear of floods and frosts.
Meanwhile, agriculturalists have discovered that many forest soils have been mulched and composted with waste. These fertile “dark earths”, or terra preta, may cover 150,000 square kilometres, much of it now reclaimed by rainforests. Before the arrival of Europeans, the region’s population may have reached 50 million.
This is what I imagine today’s footprint to look like in years to come.
The second book in The Flood Novels is still in the writing process. Meanwhile: