We’ve seen documentaries and heard or read news of how our consumption of natural resources harms the environment. But what does this all mean for us? How different will society be when the world finally runs out of natural resources?
If you’ve ever wrecked your brains over these questions, you’re in luck! Join us as we provide you with a step-by-step view of what Singapore could potentially become, according to our very own home-grown author Lu HuiYi and her Epigram Books Fiction Prize finalist, Beng Beng Revolution.
PS We’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible!
All harvestable oil and natural gas run out, the prices for the last remaining oil skyrocket, and countries wage war against each other as a result. But Singapore is mostly unaffected by it apart from the occasional ramblings from doomsayers attempting to prophesy the end times. Most Singaporeans believe that everything will be fine and life goes on as per normal.
Yishun becomes the first district in Singapore to experience the brunt from the loss of power. With the whole of Yishun in a blackout, people are forced to navigate the streets with lanterns. The government takes swift action and begins installing solar panels.
A thick layer of smog caused by deforestation blocks out the sun and renders all solar panels obsolete, which leads to Singapore losing its power—the whole island becomes enveloped in darkness again. Schools, offices, and even public transportation are forced to cease operations. Computers and televisions are nothing more than a hunk of metal, and news can only be obtained through word of mouth. Without a credible source, rumors spread like wildfire, and people fall victim to, you’ve guessed it, #fakenews.
With supermarkets now empty after being looted, food grows scarce, and people forage the streets looking for anything useful for survival. A local gang called the Society now runs amok, committing acts of violence and even kidnapping in broad daylight while the public turns a blind eye to anyone in need of help as they’re too busy focusing on their safety.
Using the resources they took by force, the Society builds a steam train and uses that to incite the citizens to revolt against the current government. With the promise of a better future, not only do the citizens take the Society’s side, even the military and the police start defecting to them.
The gang uses their newfound power to commit public denouncements, imprisonments, exiles, and even executions of any prominent figure who dares to speak up against them. A few elites of the Society now call themselves Gahmen and establish a new extreme form of meritocracy that forces Singaporeans to work in return for food and shelter.
And we’re going to cut-off here because if we go any further, we’ll spoil the story for you. Read the Beng Beng Revolution to find out how, as the main character’s father eloquently put, “[w]hatever affects the world is going to affect us”.