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London Futures

Parliament Square rice paddies
Parliament Square rice paddies. Image: London Futures

This view across Parliament Square shows paddy fields running up to the walls of the Palace of Westminster. The land that once housed political protest is now part of the city's food production effort.
In this scenario London has adapted to rising water tables in radical ways. Managed flooding is now the name of the game, as is self-sufficiency in food. Central London is a network of rice paddies – and Londoners' diet is largely rice-based.

Thames Tidal Power
Thames Tidal Power. Image: London Futures

The river remains a focus of power generation, just as it was for the great coal-powered power stations of old. Around the old Thames Barrier a number of new tidal power stations are using the tidal flows up and down the Thames to generate electricity for thousands of London businesses and homes.

The Gherkin
'The Gherkin'. Image: London Futures

The iconic City office tower is now high-rise housing. Originally converted into luxury flats, the block soon slid down the social scale to become a high-density, multi-occupation tower block. The Gherkin now worries the authorities as a potential slum.
Refugees from equatorial lands have moved north in search of food. They make their homes in the buildings that once drove world finance – before the collapse of the global economy.

Skating at Tower Bridge
Skating at Tower Bridge. Image: London Futures

As the Gulf Stream slows a mini ice-age brings temporary relief to heat-weary Londoners. Winter skating becomes London's most popular sport and Tower Bridge is a favourite spot.
The scene harks back to the 17th century when artists loved to paint London's Frost Fairs. Then, the Thames froze over because the river flowed sluggishly. Now, the river flows quickly but every winter the temperature falls to new lows.

Glacial Thames
Glacial Thames. Image: London Futures

As the Arctic warms up, the Gulf Stream starts to slow and temperatures in the UK plummet. Winters become unbearably harsh. Never mind hell freezing over, the Thames does it every winter. When the thaw comes, the city floods – a tediously predictable event for long-suffering Londoners.
The frozen Thames is both romantic and frightening. It happened regularly in the 16th century when painters recorded the delightful scenes. But this time long-term ice is building up.

Kew Nuclear Power Station
Kew Nuclear Power Station. Image: London Futures

The sunset over Kew Gardens catches London's brand new nuclear power station on the banks of the Thames.
Nuclear power is now widely accepted as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels. Expert opinion confirms that new power stations are best located near the populations they serve and architects strive to create new 'harmonious' landmarks. This is nothing new for London, which has a tradition of siting its power stations in its middle: Battersea, for example.

Buckingham Palace Shanty
Buckingham Palace Shanty. Image: London Futures

The climate refugee crisis reaches epic proportions. The vast shanty town that stretches across London's centre leaves historic buildings marooned, including Buckingham Palace.
The Royal family is surrounded in their London home. Everybody is on the move and the flooded city centre is now uninhabitable and empty – apart from the thousands of shanty-dwellers. But should empty buildings and land be opened up to climate refugees?

Trafalgar Square Shanty
Trafalgar Square Shanty. Image: London Futures

Nelson looks down on a shanty town of climate refugees. As the equatorial belt becomes uninhabitable, so people are driven north in search of food and security. People settle wherever they can and many reach London.
This is the political dilemma of the day for all European countries. The numbers are overwhelming. London's strategy is to cluster the new arrivals in the historic centre, rather than spread them through the suburbs, where most Londoners now live.

Camel Guards Parade
Camel Guards Parade. Image: London Futures

Traditional rituals have altered beyond recognition, along with the climate. Here, on Horse Guards Parade, horses have been replaced by camels – animals that can withstand the heat of the parade ground. The change was controversial but the London Tourist Board argued strongly in favour. Tourism remains important for London's economy.

London as Venice
London as Venice. Image: London Futures

London has become uninhabitable. Every year spring tides surge through the Thames Barrier, making London the new Venice. But whereas the city of gondolas has come to terms with water, London is overwhelmed.
This image shows the impact of 6-metre flooding, the level required to breach the Thames Barrier.

The Mall – Royal Power
The Mall – Royal Power. Image: London Futures

That archetypical British driveway The Mall, has become a wind-farm. Wind turbines tower over flags, as the desperate quest for renewable energy takes precedence over any remaining notions of Britishness. Cars? Now what on earth were they?
Wind farms are usually associated with bleak moors, distant hillsides or faraway patches of sea. But will we see more in our own back yards, even royal ones?

Piccadilly Circus – water lilies, fish and wind turbines
Piccadilly Circus – water lilies, fish and wind turbines. Image: London Futures

London's busiest urban hub becomes a haven of calm as water levels rise ever higher. Water lilies, fish and wind turbines drift quietly in the breeze, amid empty buildings which are only left standing to support the infrastructure of power generation. Civilisation as we know it has gone.

St Paul's Monkeys
St Paul's Monkeys. Image: London Futures

Where once gargoyles would sit on the walls of venerated buildings, St Paul's Cathedral is now host to a new breed of tropical immigrants, enjoying the view of the flooded Thames and reminiscing about equatorial days. And, despite the warning, feeding on some of the capital's newly fashionable staple foods.
Our apes are totally relaxed, perched in what is to us a narrow and precarious environment. They are truly at home.

Whitehall Tornado
Whitehall Tornado. Image: London Futures

Never mind biblical proportions, this epic storm is of filmic proportions, as real life imitates Hollywood's top tornado and onlookers run for their lives. As the UK climate changes more extreme weather conditions become a regular feature of life in the UK.
Trafalgar Square is a both a symbol and gathering place for Londoners with Nelsons column, the pigeons, New Years Eve celebrations, London's red buses etc. It's appeared in hundreds of films, most memorably for us as the view from Harry Palmers boss's office in the classic 'Ipcress File'.
An early visual reference was Norman Parkinson's 1949 'New Look' photograph taken from the terrace of the National Gallery. Two models (one his wife) stand silhouetted on the terrace framed between two columns. Behind them, in the London mist, looms Nelson's column. We took a wider view to capture the scale and energy of the Tornado tearing up Whitehall.

Hyde Park Palm Oil
Hyde Park Palm Oil. Image: London Futures

London's open spaces resemble tropical plantations. The cost of food production is rising and cultivatable land is becoming scarce. More and more of London's parks and green spaces are given over to industrial-scale agriculture. Palm oil is harvested in Hyde Park to meet our changing energy needs.
The Hyde Park Hilton was designed as an urban landmark but does not look out of place as a tropical resort hotel.

Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival. Image: London Futures

The Notting Hill Carnival is still going strong. But being out in the sun is now a death-trap. Every carnival-goer is given standard-issue blue sun-block to protect every inch of exposed skin. Health and safety gone mad, or gone sensible? At last we're all the same colour.
The ozone layer protects the earth from the sun's rays but is much thinner than it used to be. Banning the use of CFC gasses has stabilised the layer, for now. But how long will it last?

Via London Futures

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