Captain Jacobs stands at the helm of the CCGS Terry Fox staring out into the vast open arctic ocean. It’s February 4th 2015 and the winter seems to have finally vanished. She passes command of the bridge to Officer Tay, walks out onto the deck, and leans against the railing, windbreaker flapping in the wind.
The captain remembers every detail, every emotion enveloping this day 2 years ago. How could she forget? A heated argument with her father at the dinner table turned into a murder. At least, that’s how she still feels about it. The guilt is relentless. “Why couldn’t we just agree to disagree and let time be the judge?” She repeats in her mind every year on this day.
But they were both headstrong and being right was the most important testament to their own self-worth. As it turns out, her father had been horrendously wrong yet he had defended his position until his last breath, that cold evening two winters ago when he fell off his chair clutching his chest.
Before the final heartbeat, Captain Jacobs often dreamed of a day when she could rub the spoils of victory in his face, and today might have been such a day if only…
The ice breaker glides effortlessly through the open waters on what will likely be her last voyage. Captain Jacobs pulls a white carnation from her jacket pocket and throws it into the deep. She imagines her ship slicing through a meter thick sea of white petals, one for each cubic inch of sea ice that blanketed the North Pole a mere 3 years ago. How she wishes she had been wrong!
The Beaufort Sea ice extent started to crack one month after her father’s funeral and 51 days earlier than normal. By the end of the melt season, all arctic climate science models became obsolete. The ice never properly formed the following winter and in 2014 the northern glaciers off Greenland and Alaska took a beating.
The world went silent.
A 12 foot rise in sea level was less than 3 years away as the last of the larger glaciers would melt by then. Something had to be done and fast.
CCGS Terry Fox’s focus changed from ice breaker to ice salvager, as did arctic fleets from Russia, The US, Norway, and Iceland. Opportunistic nations and private interests also rushed the arctic to claim their piece of fresh water floating in and around the North Pole. And corporations once again profited from global warming as they bottled and sold the water at ridiculous prices.
Today, Captain Jacobs has no more water pirates to chase. She has the last piece of ice in tow. She stares blankly into the distance at a pod of white-sided dolphins playing in the February sun.
Suddenly, her first officer explodes onto the deck, runs to her, and places a hand on her shoulder. “Cassandra!”
Captain Jacobs doesn’t need to hear the rest. The news her first officer is about to tell knows no rank. She turns around slowly and looks into his eyes, terrified. He nods.
Once again, she was right…
… to be continued in A Change In Course.