The rain was late today. Jaswinder looked up for the fifth time in the past 2 minutes expecting to see an overcast sky only to again find it clear as daylight. That’s it, he wasn’t paying through the nose for unpredictable weather – he could get that for free any day. These corporations couldn’t be relied on. He punched in the number for the Eurus help line on his phone.
“Hello, You’ve reached the Eurus Global Weather control help line. This is Jessie. How may I help you, Mr. Jaswinder Sahni?”
“Hello. I had registered for a regularly scheduled 11mm of rain on my maize crop, here in Bhatinda. Today’s lot was supposed to be here almost half an hour ago, but as I look out, there’s no sign of the clouds or any water on the way. Can you please explain why?”
“I see you’re enrolled on one of our crop-irrigation packages. We apologize for the delay. As I can see on my dashboard, the drone that was supposed to seed the clouds above your farmland had a delayed start due to maintenance issues and should be there anytime.”
“Why don’t you send an alternate drone? This isn’t the first time I am hearing of this. And I am not paying you $100,000 a month for delays.”
“Sir, we have many more requests coming in nowadays, and we are upgrading our drone infrastructure. Our engineers are working on a more permanent solution as we speak. Right now, I am pinging the location of your drone and it seems to have reached its designated location three minutes ago”.
Jaswinder spotted the droplets on his window and knew the issue had been resolved. Other problems could wait for another day.
Jessie put the phone down and looked at the time. It was lunchtime. She made sure there were no incoming calls while going through the various social media feeds and email accounts of Eurus that she and a number of other executives managed. When she was absolutely sure, she hit the pause button on her keyboard and her system locked.
Arwen, Theresa, and Louise were standing in the same place, as always, waiting for her to join them before heading down to the cafeteria. They were the closest to what she could call ‘friends’ at her office – although they barely spent any time together apart from the 25-minute lunchtime. Arwen was in R&D while Theresa and Louise were in Weather Execution and Client Relations respectively. They took their favorite seat near the windows when Theresa declared, “I’m done with this job!”
Jessie glared a warning at Arwen who suppressed a smile and then turned to Theresa, “Hey, what happened? Is everything alright?”
“No, it isn’t,” said Theresa, toying with the food on her plate, “And it can never be. When I joined this company I was so excited about the prospects. But now I see what happens when we go beyond our authority over nature”.
Louise jumped in too. “C’mon! Don’t tell me those engineers messed something up again?”.
“Uh-huh! Flash floods in a small village in eastern China. Nobody died because the system alerted local authorities immediately, but so much was lost – houses, cattle. And all that because some billionaire wanted just the right amount of sunlight and humidity on his estate nearby.”“So it wasn’t the engineers, right?”, asked Arwen, between bites of his sandwich. To him, the technology that went behind the global meteorological control was sacrosanct.
“Nope. Sounds more like wrong coordinates to me”, said Jessie as she sipped her stew. “In any case, you’ve got to stop bringing your personal beliefs into it. This is not any god’s or mythical power’s doing. It’s all technology. Look,” she pointed at a screen up on the wall near their table. The stream was switching between several of the successful projects that Eurus was running across the world.
“Irrigation projects like those running on Jaswinder’s farm,” she continued, showing him her interaction record with Jaswinder on her phone, “when sponsored by the government, are solving water scarcity problems across the world. And even without government sponsorship, predictable and controllable rainfall has given agriculture around the world a reason to rely more on natural measures for crop growth. And it isn’t just normal rain. Farmers can avail nutritional rain for their crops that can ensure the proper amount of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals are delivered to their crops the right way.”
“Locally deployed cyclones generated with electromagnetic atmospheric waves have been used as anti-cyclone measures as well,” Arwen pointed out.
“You know, in some areas of the world with low ozone cover,” Louise added, “artificial cloud cover has helped prevent many of the sun’s harmful effects, while not holding back any of its benefits. The cloud cover in such cases was generated with special UV-absorbent properties that could remove 98% of the harmful radiation. And then..”
“I get it”, interrupted Theresa, “but the very technology that you mentioned has also put unimaginable power in the wrong hands! Flash floods have been used to destroy nations at war. Bio-fogs are used as war-weapons and terrorist attacks alike. We still don’t have complete assurance that our weather satellites are hack-proof. Just a couple of months ago a kid made it rain on his school for two weeks without getting detected! All I am saying is, just because we can do it, doesn’t always mean we always should.”
“You do- hey look, Erinford is on the tele!”, Arwen pointed at the same screen they were looking at a while back, as the company’s CEO Brian Erinford appeared on it. The words ‘Announcement’ flashed on a ticker tape below him and the Eurus jingle played for a customary minute giving everyone time to divert their attention to the screens.
“Hello, my dear Eurus family. Today, we have something groundbreaking to announce, that has been brought about not just by a few scientists in a lab, but by each and every one of you working hard to make Eurus the world’s leading meteorological management company. It is with that reliability that we have been able to approach governments across the world to work on areas of weather control which would traditionally be considered decades away. And one such venture has borne a verified successful result today that can change humanity forever. And that venture is – the Eurus lightning farms!” As the announcement echoed in the cafeteria, the customary round of applause took a minute to die down, allowing Erinford to continue.
“For many years, we have been trying to generate lightning from thunderstorms in a controllable, effective way that would cost less energy than is spent to generate it. Today, for the first time, on one of the lightning farms located in remote Sahara, we have achieved a positive energy ratio of 1.03 consistently for almost a month! We are ready to announce this to the world today. This could potentially solve energy problems in many areas of the world. And for this, you are all to be thanked! I wouldn’t want to hold you back any longer, so I will take your leave now and let you get back to your workstations. We will share more updates with the entire Eurus family as and when we receive them. Thank you!”
As the announcement trailed off with the usual ‘Eurus – a better world for everyone’ logo, everyone turned back to their tables. “Now that’s what I am talking about”, said Arwen, chomping into the last bit of his sandwich before washing it down with a gulp of packed juice. Theresa looked out of the window with a sigh escaping her lips. Jessie, to reassure her, pats her on the back, “Don’t worry too much about it! Now let’s go back before we are fined for lunchtime dilly-dallying”.
As all of them got up to head back, Theresa looked out of the window, down at the Earth below them. “I just hope that we don’t mess it up too much. It is the only blue dot in the universe we’ve got.”
“For now, at least.” Arwen pitched in, wistfully looking at the terraforming shuttles headed to the moon in the distance.