An Alternate History by Rolando Huerta: 12/18/15

Earlier in the year, I asked some writers I know if they’d be willing to write an alternate history for this project in response to a climate anxiety I’d gathered at the booth. You can read some of the other ones by Rachel Schapira, Rachel Schapira again, Ethan Robinson, Mia Hooper and Janaya Kizzie. If you think you might like to write one, let me know. This one just came in, and is by Rolando Huerta; the date at the top refers to the date the story was posted.






SARAH RICHARDS-MALKOVICH and .   Docket No. 1111-ACV-192735-JCSAC



Plaintiffs,              .   Providence, Rhode Island

.   Monday, July 9, 2057

  1. .   9:00 a.m.





Defendants.              .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .









For the Plaintiffs:          Nixon & Carmicle, S.C.


42 East Midland Street, Suite 18

Warwick, RI 02887

(411) 929-9911


For the Defendants:          State Attorney General’s Office



P.O. Box 78570

Warwick, RI 02887-7857

(411) 294-9544


Court Recorder:              Carmen DuPont

District Court Clerk’s Office

1 Exchange St, Room 320

Providence, RI 02903

(411) 244-5156


Transcription Service:       Blankpunkt Reporting Co.

801 North Verdaccio Street

Providence, RI 02907

(411) 722-7428


Proceedings recorded by electronic sound recording;

transcript produced by transcription service.




OPENING STATEMENT:                                     Page


On behalf of the Plaintiffs, by Mr. Connolly            3

On behalf of the Defendants, by Mr. Sabrahar           12



WITNESSES FOR THE     Direct Cross Redirect Recross Redirect


Bernadette A. Clay       25     49

Louis Fishbourne         70     92     75     129




Malcom Morgan           102   156 (Voir Dire)

Simon S. Moody           108   177

MOTION: Mr. Sabrahar   111 Denied   112

MOTION: Ms. Kennelly   118 Denied   115


EXHIBITS:                                     Marked Received


1 – Morgan affidavit and extra damages         29     29


2 – Additional extra damages list             38     40

3 – Performance appraisals, 2053 – 2056,       60     64


4 – Performance appraisals, 2047 – 2056,       75     —



ARGUMENT: Mr. Connolly                               165

RESPONSE: Mr. Sabrahar                               172




(Call to Order of the Court.)

THE COURT: Good morning, everyone. Let’s call in the jury, unless there are matters to consider first. Mr. Connolly?

  1. CONNOLLY: No, Your Honor, we’re ready.
  2. SABRAHAR: We have nothing to take up right now, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Good. Mr. Bailiff, please bring the jury from their waiting room.

(Proceedings continued in the presence of the jury.)

THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Our first order of business will be brief statements of what this case is all about by Mr. Connolly and Mr. Sabrahar, whom you met yesterday during the jury selection process. Mr. Connolly will speak to you first.

Please proceed, Mr. Connolly.

  1. CONNOLLY: Thank you, Your Honor.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, this is an unusual case, in that we are here to decide whether the long accepted Weather Modification Act should continue to be implemented in the State of Rhode Island. Moreover, we are here to decide whether the State of Rhode Island is directly responsible for the tragic death of a Ms. Elizabeth Malkovich, eleven year old daughter of Sarah and Taylor Malkovich.

Particularly in question is whether the release of cloud-seeding aerosols, such as silver iodide, by Rhode Island’s Departments of Climate Control and Geoengineering directly or indirectly contributed to flooding in West Providence, which occurred at approximately 10:30 AM on the morning of September 5, 2056. This flash flood left thousands without a home, and even more people were left without running water and electricity; it caused over one hundred and fifty million dollars in damage. Worse yet, it took young Ms. Malkovich’s life. She was trapped and drowned at her school that morning. The very building housing teachers educating her on the Global Climate Control Initiative, and the importance of weather modification, Rhode Island’s premier charter school, the Casey-Anne Institute, became this child’s watery grave. And how compelling it is that we be here this morning to discuss this matter and reach the right verdict.

The long since tenured practice of cloud seeding was publicly instituted at the height of our climate change anxiety in the twenty-twenties, 2025 to be exact, and overturned the Clean Water Act of the twentieth century. It has been said that the Weather Modification Act of 2025 is responsible for over 10,000 accidental flooding deaths in the U.S.A. every year since its passing. It’s time that once and for all those responsible for such senseless and negligent policies of death, have their day in court, and that the State of Rhode Island suspend its implementation of the Weather Modification Act of 2025. Further, that restitution and damages be sought and awarded to the Plaintiff, may the jury reach the right decision.

We should do this for Ms. Elizabeth Malkovich, who did not deserve to die at the tender age of eleven, especially, at the hands of those who are tasked with protecting each and every one of us. We should do this not only for the Malkovich family, present today, but for all those parents not present today, who want to see their own children outlive themselves. Members of the Jury, I do not know whether any of you have children, but I do, and I do not want the Rhode Island Departments of Climate Control and Geoengineering to kill them, not by intent, nor by accident, and certainly not by negligent policy.


  1. CONNOLLY: I’d like to call Ms. Clay.

THE COURT: Raise your right hand, madam, and the clerk will administer the oath.


THE CLERK: State and spell your name for the record.

THE WITNESS: Bernadette A. Clay, C-L-A-Y.

THE CLERK: Be seated.



  1. Do you know either of the plaintiffs in this case, Mr. Taylor Malkovich or Mrs. Richards-Malkovich?
  2. Yes, I do know them both.
  3. And what is your relationship?
  4. I taught their daughter, Liz, third grade calculus at Casey-Anne.
  5. How long have you been teaching at the Casey-Anne Institute?
  6. For twenty-three years now. Yes, I’ve been teaching at Casey-Anne since 2034.
  7. Was there anything unusual about the week of September 5, 2056?
  8. Well, yes. On that Monday the 4th [9/4/56], an overwhelming majority, ninety-five per cent, of our students, and ninety per cent of all Rhode Islanders, as I recall, voted for sunny weather, not rain. We were supposed to have [long pause] sunny weather all week.

[mixed voices]



Climate Anxiety Counseling in Burnside Park, 10/15/15

Weather: “It’s fall weather, I can’t explain it.”–a young woman, on the phone

Number of people: 7 stoppers, 2 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 5.5

Alternate Histories: 0

People who commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

Conversations between people who didn’t know each other previously: 1

Self-induced hair colors spotted: old turquoise, new hot pink, deep purple braids, lavender pixie cut

People who I recognized from last time, and who recognized me: 1

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.25


I’ve found that during “for one night only” appearances, relatively few people come up to me–maybe they need time to get used to me being there?

Also, a Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy music-and-beer event was happening in the park itself, so people were maybe mostly in a different mode.

A woman who spoke up for me once when someone was harassing me was there, but she didn’t give any recognition of me.

Some conversations:

[These two were friends.]

Friend 1: Is it like people are worried about the climate?


[To friend] That’s smooth, right? I like that.

You got any anxieties?

Not about the climate. But it just goes to show there’s somebody for everybody that needs somebody.

Friend 2: Is it like global warming and the glaciers are melting faster than they’ve ever melted in the history of the earth?


I’m having trouble getting a bed. I have an apartment, but in the place I was staying in before that, they had bedbugs and roaches. I moved and I had to leave everything behind. I’m sleeping on a futon and it’s real uncomfortable.


I’m a little concerned about the lack of rain. It’s different from what I’d expect this time of year.

Are you a gardener?

I do garden, but in the long term I’m worried about the trees.


I’m discouraged by a lot of things outside of my control.

What do you do when you feel that discouragement?

I do something else–I think I circulate the anxieties. I leave the house, I do another job. It’s like the way I think about deep space–I think about deep space too much.

Do you talk about it?

I talk about it with my housemates, but there’s a lot of science I don’t understand, information I don’t have or don’t know how to approach. There’s a book [about climate change] I haven’t read yet… There are concessions I can make–it’s not that hard. I don’t have to have a car, I don’t have to use a lot of heat. I read an article that was talking about shooting this chemical cloud into the atmosphere–rather than solving any of the issues we’ll attempt to build some more technology, like, Oh phew, the scientists will save us. Like, We made the problem and now we’ll make the solution. It’s just this idea of progression.


Work. I work for a nonprofit organization, [NAME]. Fundraising can be stressful, but when you meet the families it’s worth it. We don’t receive any state funding, we’re all donor based.


Everyone in the world today recognizes that we’re on a path that’s not sustainable, except here. Even if somebody else recognizes it, nobody’s willing to take the drastic steps that we really need to take, but at least we could take half-steps and we’re not even doing that. I start thinking about where I could move that I could be more in control of. When you live in a large city like Providence, pretty much everything is out of your control. I rely on electricity that comes from thousands of miles away.

Today’s poem:

“Why should I cry” the music keeps saying

well if you won’t I can’t make you

any making I can do would wear

away the second we all turned

from each other into meat and bone

pick up our detritus with a grabber

something to make sure you never touch

word on the park is barrier after barrier

send the bums to that side

do you want the park or

do you want fast music or

to hold yourself in the back of the heart

some piercing point or other for the sun

to enter but never escape

after we matter and are all over

Alternate Histories: 6/13, 6/13, 9/14

[These are anxieties from three different people; here’s an explanation of why they’re together.]


Him: My big anxiety is that if you look back 65 million years, when the temperature jumped, it jumped in a span not of 100 but of 15 years, 8 degrees Celsius. We couldn’t adjust for it.

Her: The sea level rise from that–

Him: Basically if you melt all of [the] Greenland [Ice Sheet] you get 8 meters of rise. If you melt East and West Antarctica, you get an automatic 300 feet. Countries other than the U.S. are gonna push for geoengineering, but that has massive negative consequences. And the other thing is methane. There’s a tipping point with methane release as polar ice melts, and it’s greenhouse gas with 27 times the power of carbon dioxide. That’s really the thing that’s gonna put us over the edge. No policy can stop that. Barring geoengineering, this will happen.

Her: Based on the models.

So if this is definitely happening, what does that mean–

Him: For civilization?

I don’t think you know that. For you.

Him: It would be very sad, because we’re of the generation that actually had a chance to have an engineering impact for future generations. Cheap agricultural production is gonna collapse, and there’s gonna be an expansion of people who are denied their basic human rights.

Do you think there’s structures we could set up now that would reduce the chance of that?

Him: When I was younger, I went to Cuba and I looked at agricultural reform that was part of the reaction of the government to Russia’s collapse. All the imports of things like grain stopped. So they had to move from an agriculture that was focused on producing coffee, sugar and tobacco to a diversified local agriculture that could feed the population of the island. They were overall able to adapt the food supply, shift away from state-run agriculture. If we could facilitate such a shift–but agriculture runs off fossil fuels and glacial meltwater … I got burnt out on international development. Now I’m just trying to make money enough to make sure my family is safe. I’m building nonmilitary drones–they make 3D plans of buildings … I don’t see a total extinction event, I just see a very rough period for human rights. We have a tendency to hunt till there’s no more, drill till there’s no more. I personally think that humans are awesome, because humans make awesome things–humans are grasping the fundamental nature of reality in a way that no other creature has.


More storms. But it doesn’t feel personal to me, not like a personal fear. It’s more like the collective weight of an increasing level of disaster. It feels like a heavy weight, a collective weight of too much–too much happening at once. I have some sense of the fallout of that kind of [event]. I think there’s a lot of people that would vanish, would fall away, would die, and then the few people who are left would have to sort it out.



G sees history, and N feels it, looming above them, poised to fall. Let’s entwine not what they imagine, which is similar, but how they imagine it. When G is frightened, they gather data–names, relationships, likelihoods, projections, things that seem to them incontrovertible. When N is frightened, they register emanations–feelings that they share with other humans, with the strain that will show later in the year as blight on the edges of maple leaves, ground turning sour under heavy, sudden downpours, edged jokes about the Ocean State.

G can help tell us what structures we might put in place, what resources we might make available. Will we need new ways to balance what we permit with what we object to? G can seek out ways that people have handled this in the past, all through storied time, and correlate them with our coming needs. They can weigh the effects of different methane-capturing technologies and paces of reforestation. N can tell us if what we’re doing is working. Is the weight lighter? What does the air taste like? Which excuses do the violent try to make, and do they fly?

This happens–they tell us these things, and we listen, and act–and people who think like G go to places where that kind of thinking is needed, or wait where they are for people who think like N to reveal themselves. They come to recognize that data describes them, that history is something they are in, that the fundamental nature of reality is not something we grasp. It operates through us–we are among its tissues and its elements.

Through conversation, through proximity and through shared effort , people become better at each other’s kinds of thinking. Of course there are more than two; there are more than ten, or even a hundred; when we look away from all the different ways that people can see and understand the changes, we’re faced with the ways squids “understand” them or the way rocks “feel” them. And as we know this–as it’s expressed in numbers or in sounds–we may change what we do. This seems abstract, semantic, but history in us is as palpable as a dash of cool wind, the taste of bananas, a neck muscle easing.

Climate Anxiety Counseling: 5/27/15

Weather: Hot in the sun, pleasantly cool in the shade, very windy and gusty.

Number of people: 11 stoppers, 5 walkbys

Number of hecklers: 0!

Pages of notes: 8

Alternate Histories: 0

Conversations between people previously unknown to one another: 1

People I recognized from last year who recognized me: 1

People who recognized me from last year whom I didn’t recognize: 1, sorry

Pictures taken without permission: 2

Dogs spotted: 1, in a carrier

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $1.34


Wind so strong and uneven keeps me tense and alert to it instead of to other things and people–I have to really grip the booth (which, lest we forget, is made of cardboard and plywood) to keep it from blowing over.

Now I’m in dappled shade almost the entire time, where at the beginning of the month the sun was shining directly on my face.

The public transit demonstrators of yesterday were present again, as were 2 police SUVs and some cars convening at the Greyhound/Peter Pan stop and outside the skating rink.

Thanks to James Kuo for helping me figure out a way to end conversations that are based on people’s perception of me as a captive audience.

People had a lot of advice for me today: I should hand out candy (“Life Savers or those miniature Tootsie Rolls”), I should play Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, I should get 50 Cent in as a spokesperson about heat rage.

Today also really made me think about cognitive dissonance and failure to correlate–how when I see it in others I should also search for it in myself.

Some conversations:

When people are not kind because of difference. People don’t respect one another. I was taught to be respectful no matter what–I just see a human being.

How did you learn to be like that? I’m asking because I’m trying to think about how to get more people to do it.

I think you really have to be brought up like that. I grew up in Harlem in the ’60s, so things were very different, and my mother told me that. Once you’re kind, you treat everybody that way … I think what’s stopping them could be frustration. When I first got here it was Cape Verdean and Portuguese, everywhere, now it’s Hispanics [sic] everywhere, doing every job. Maybe some people are scared they’re gonna lose what they have, but there’s enough room and space for everyone. There’ll be a place for you, a spot somewhere. Unless it gets like NY–people there killing each other for space.

How do you think we can make it clear that that space is there for people?

Let it be known–just get the word out. Like in a garden, every flower has its purpose. You’re not gonna catch me working at Starbucks, McDonald’s, but there’s someone who’s not gonna have a problem with that. Or working in a garden, on a farm–my hands are gonna get dirty, no way. But some people would rather do that. There’s a job for everyone, a need for everyone, everybody has a purpose.

What do you do for work?

I work at [REDACTED], and before that, I worked at a training school with child molesters. And people said, “How can you do that, don’t you wanna kill ’em?” And I said no, it’s an illness, and it’s just my nine to five, I can separate it, I don’t let it affect me. But certain things I can’t separate. If there’s blood, things hangin’ out, I couldn’t do that. It’s a balance, it really is a balance, but a lot of people aren’t there yet.


Are you praying?

[I explain.]

My mother. She don’t talk now–she only got a few days to live. She got cancer and the doctors give up and send her home.

Can you go to be with her?

It’s hard, ’cause it’s far. She’s in Puerto Rico. It would be a waste of time, she wouldn’t even recognize me. I’m just waiting for that call and then I’ll go down.


I worrying about killing somebody, raping somebody, lying, cheating. I worry so much when people talk about other people–people always gonna talk. I pray to God to not let me worry about these things. I think about these things but I don’t do them. I try to think like God. I’m not God, but I try to think like him, I prefer to think like God than think like the Devil. These things that worry me, they coming from the thinking of the Devil. God thinks peace, peace, God don’t like raping, lying, killing people. But these bad stuff come to my mind. If I’m gonna preach, if I’m gonna witness, I gotta suffer.

Are there people you can pray with who can help you stay strong?

At the Providence Center–[names some people] help me in the name of Jesus.


Bringing my son out to swim, which he’s been wanting to do. He’s autistic, and I get anxious when I wanna bring him outta the water–I had a lot of problems with that today. And last night we had a little trouble sleeping ’cause we have no electricity, so no A/C. I had to take like a wet rag.

Any chance of getting it turned back on soon?

I’m hoping in the next six months. I work over here at the mall and they’re not giving me enough hours. Matter of fact, climate change messed up my hours at work. I work at [REDACTED] and no one wants to be inside playing games.


Corruption–thieves. When people who are low on the totem pole [sic] get the brunt of everything. Did you see about that guy that worked for Medicare, he and his son stole $23 million in 4 years. Meanwhile I get Medicare and I still gotta pay 20% [of each doctor’s bill]. No! You take everything his family’s got and you sell it and you give it to us. And here at City Hall, “Oh, we’re broke, we’re broke,” how did you have $150 million to lend to some guy in Boston and it disappeared?

What do you think people should do?

Don’t pay taxes. Or put taxes in a trust--if you need it for something, we have a meeting, yes we’ll do this, yes we’ll do that. … How can these people have so much wealth when we’re so poor? In City Hall you can’t even get a cold glass of water. We get tired becase we gotta go to this one, go to that one … Get a good group, things’ll be great, people who’ll take it upon themselves. Transparency in what we’re spending.


[Person 1 and Person 2 came up together, and were later joined by Person 3. Also, note to Providence Arts, Culture & Tourism: you should hire Person 1.]

Person 1: Climate in RI does affect everyone. All winter people are dull, they’re complaining. People let the weather affect their moods. I try to dress for it, adapt to my current situation, but everyone just complains pretty much. We’re in New England, we get all four seasons pretty hard.

What would you recommend to help people deal with the seasons, the stuff that affects their moods?

That’s a good question. Maybe organize a day where you give out popsicles, not like a protest, but let that be the topic? In the winter, let’s get together, let’s go out there and plow, let’s have a snowball fight–maybe plow so that you can have a snowball fight. If it’s really hot, maybe organize a day where you only go out after six? But no one likes to be told what to do, but I think you have to be open-minded. Rhode Islanders are not as open-minded. It’s what we’re used to. People never get to leave their block–I wish they could see that there’s more. My friends and I have been talking about how there’s no scene in RI, and we want to set the theme for ourselves. We need more people involved, more ideas–people who come from out of state love it here. We don’t appreciate it enough ourselves.

Person 2: I’m afraid that the government can control the weather …I’m scared that they will use it against us someday. We should fight against it by rioting. The goal would be to establish–the goal would be to respect the people and not make weapons like that. The earth is more valuable than that shit. They always want to reinforce some kind of order.

[I think I asked some kind of question here like] What should they do instead?

If the government invests more money on solar panels every year, instead of double the money they give to the military, take a cut from that and invest it in solar technology. The gases that we’re using for cars is fucking up the air. Companies that do research on technology, they should invest in those departments–I think they already do that, but it’s not as much as it should be. It should be more than the military.

Person 1: What’s the two things Rhode Island is known for? Dunkin Donuts and Cumberland Farms. They could help us out climatewise–in the summer they could make Coolattas cheaper instead of more expensive, and in the winter, they could make a Box of Joe cheaper, and with Cumberland Farms, the same thing with coffee. But instead they’re trying to make money, so they raise the prices.

Person 2: They got strategic people for that.

Person 1: They’re trying to make money off the climate. They should do the opposite. … There’ve been six homicides already in Providence this year. Kids get brainwashed by rap videos, kids try to imitate–Chiraq, you heard of Chiraq? Kids here try to imitate that. They rep their block. It’s in the summer that most people get killed. People need to keep their cool. The South Side is not that big, but people hate on each other, it’s always in their brain that they’re gonna have to watch their back. [Person 3 came up at this point.] If people maybe spoke to each other more–these kids are all in high school, freshmen and sophomores. They wanna die and be put on a t-shirt and their boys can rap about them.

Person 3: My cousin’s a victim of that. He traps, and he’s like, and my uncles are like, “You don’t know how to make a dollar.” They think I’m the stupid one.

Person 2: You go to school, you’ll get a good job–even if you don’t, just so you can be educated on a lot of things. The more you learn, the more you know about things, the more you’re worth.

[They talk a bunch together about reading a book a day, and about drugs.]

Before I forget, I wanna ask [Person 3] if he has any climate anxieties.

Person 3: I grew up in Saudi Arabia and it was really hot. I don’t know if it affects me–it does, ’cause when I’m in the car and it’s really hot I get more aggressive. Wherever it’s fall all the time, that’s where I wanna live. Springtime’s almost nonexistent anymore. [Transition I didn’t note.] I’m a business major.

How can we use the tools of business to make doing things that are better for the environment more appealing?

I think communism might not be a bad idea–not communism, socialism, socialism. But it’s impossible because there’s always someone who’s greedy.

Person 1: Capitalism just destroys shit. It eats it like a black hole.

Today’s poem:

I’m not the census and I’m not praying.

Wind bangs the handtruck on the fence.

I squirm to know where to place myself.

Just when it seems I know what to look to.

Alternate Histories: 6/3, 4/20


[These are from conversations with two pairs of friends, at different times.]

Friend 1: The government. They’re frauds. Changing stuff around.

Like what?

They’re trying to lower the population, make it so there’s one world leader. There’s all these wars to reduce the population.

How does it affect you?

It affects me because I got love for everybody! I don’t want people to die for no reason.

Friend 2: Not only that, but the rich stay rich, the poor stay poor.

How can people help take care of each other?

Friend 1: People build themselves up. Helping the lower class become middle class.


The government’s controlling the weather. If you know how nature works, it usually has seasons, and it didn’t this year. There were no April showers, May had all the showers. And the birds left in March, they know how it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t add up to me. The way animals are behaving — and the trees and stuff, we’re not gonna have oxygen to breathe.



W and Y and K and A all live in the same city. W and Y are friends and so are K and A, but the two pairs don’t know each other. Here in the city, everyone dies for no reason–that is, no one dies for someone else’s bad reason. When there’s dangerous weather, there’s also a plan; when there’s sickness, there’s also care; when there’s not quite enough food, everyone’s hungry together. Everyone in the city, just about, is the same amount of endangered, and the same amount of safe, their whole lives long–not just from sudden changes, but from seeping changes. The ground and the water are low on unpleasant surprises. Cancer, asthma, nightmares, skin trouble are equally common in all areas of the city–which is to say, a little bit common.

Who is responsible for this? The government. It’s partly true to say the government control the weather–for a long time, they controlled it for the worse, by allowing the people and companies making it worse to continue. Having stopped this, they began to unravel themselves piece by piece, to distribute themselves, to share themselves out.

Who are the government now? Here in the city, most people’s sense of who the government are and what they do is pretty clear. They observe the need for large-scale work and organize its carrying out: they came out to help W and the people on his street remove an old tank of cyanide safely; they helped to plan, dig and plant up a heat shelter that K’s neighborhood council requested; they asked people from Y’s neighborhood to go to A’s neighborhood to pick defoliating bugs off trees. They protect and distribute some of the resources of place. They liaise with the governments of other cities, making sure the edges of the city are purposefully porous, and between neighborhood councils, if there’s a question about who gets what or who does what. They don’t respond to contention, or the need for justice and reparation–the neighborhood councils do that. They reinforce the city’s intention to meet the needs of its most fragile living creatures first, to keep its hands open and even. They foster science and observation; they believe what people tell them about what they see. They test soil bacteria and air quality. They keep an eye on salvage operations, the timing of bird migrations, dispatches from people mooring their boats in the harbor. When people ask them to, they make ways. They make paths.

Who is responsible? The ones who respond.