Writes: Imran Samad*
Like the Triassic and Jurassic era, we have today entered the Anthropocene era. It basically means that now, whatever happens to the planet would be a result of our activities. Climate change, Global Warming is natural phenomenon and have occurred before humans existed. What we have done is highly accelerate this phenomenon. What should be unfolded in millions of years, is done in a few centuries. We have already used 100M years worth of fossil fuels from the Earth. And the best part is, it’s not the big industries and organisations that use the most energy, that produce the most waste. It is us! Doing our everyday activities, using or wasting energy, mindlessly treading the land, polluting places we visit, wasting food, buying products we don’t need and the list goes on. If we can change even one thing, say recycling products instead of throwing them away, we can make a massive difference. It’s the little things done by the lot that counts. The future is in our hands, we can either destroy Earth or save it.
“You, Miss Genie are barred from the class until you complete your essay” No one had ever seen Mrs Gilligan so outraged over someone, given her natural tendency to caress and refine her students.
Genie, a petite girl with skin like a flower petal – as everyone said – stood outside the class staring at her tidy shoes. Unexpectedly, there was some dirt at the tip of her right shoe.
“You shall now read a book and write a detailed essay of not less than one thousand words and submit it to me. Failing to do so within seven days will lead to a dismissal from the mid-terms. Go to section 7B of the library and take any book you like” she gasped “You may leave now.”
“Yes, ma’am” and nimble steps walked to the end of the gallery away towards the stairs.
The Library. A palace of solitude and serenity that once knew her better had seen her after a long time today. Section 7B ‘Earth Life’ was carved skilfully on the side of the mammoth bookshelf.
She gradually promenaded along the bookcase and pulled out a book. ‘Between Dreams and Disasters – A Collection of Memories’ “Hmm” she said and walked away to the nearest table. She turned the imbricate hardcover open. The first page was a beautiful photo of the Earth taken in around the 2020th Earth Year. The first page read the following:
About seven hundred years ago, our civilisation began travelling to Mars. The Earth, our origin planet, was taking its last breaths then. Over overexploitation of natural resources in a race to progress geometrically lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem. Earth had seen many epochs, from being covered in thick ice sheets about 2.5 Billion years ago to being heated enough to evaporate oceans (The Earth was 2/3rd ocean). However, these were caused by nature itself and hence the earth healed from them. However, when the holozoic era began, at 9000 BC (Earth Year), humans began evolving from their ancestors. They started walking on their feet, which provided them with a pair of free hands that they used to shape the world. They changed the geography and chemistry of the planet and hence began the Anthropocene era. Human’s lust for power and energy blinded them to the catastrophe they were creating for themselves. In about a century and a half, a runaway greenhouse effect was noticed and made official. A runaway greenhouse effect is what happened to Venus billions of years ago. This killed most life on the planet and the ones that survived lived in air-conditioned chambers unable to traverse outside. NASA had foreseen this disaster and had secretly begun sending humans to Mars. It was time to leave the planet. About six hundred years ago, we completely cut off from Earth and now we know that Earth is vapid.
It is nice to know our origins and hence it was Dr Kent’s (an eminent astrophysicist of the time) idea to write a book collecting the most beautiful and cherished moments of the people of Earth. “Emotions are the best way to connect with each other and this book will keep us connected to our ancestors, always reminding us to prioritize our planet before our own avarice” he had said in one of his interviews.
The introduction was intriguing enough, so Genie decided to move further. There were many stories listed on the contents page. Genie turned to the one titled ‘My indelible boat ride’. It was partly out of her passion for oceans and partly of zest that she flipped to the story. She had heard tales of enormous seas from her parents and always looked at the preserved picture of oceans at the Museum with awe.
I was ten years old when my family decided to take a weekend off at the ocean near Vancouver Island. My mother had lost a dear friend two weeks ago and a week ago my aunt Martha had given birth to a baby girl. She named her Patrice, after her departed friend. It was early Saturday morning and we were about a sixty nautical miles away from the coast. I woke up when I realised our boat hit something gently. I rushed outside where my parents already stood to stare at the waters. I walked closer and suddenly a huge humpback whale breached the surface splashing water all around. It was about twenty meters away and as it came closer I realised it was larger than our boat, some fifty feet approximately. It had a calf that covered almost half our boat. I was scared at first but my father, a passionate diver, told me that no humpbacks had ever killed a human. We went to the end of the boat, near the railing. My father had stopped the engines. The whale was within my reach. My heart started pounding like a jackhammer as I slowly held my hand towards the leviathan. I was inclined to take my hand away but seeing my dad gently rubbing her, I gathered enough courage to touch her. Her skin was slippery and was like nothing I had ever felt before. An intuitive smile ran across my face. I could see tears on my mom’s face as she looked at the calf.
There was one moment when my eyes were locked on her eyes and I felt so intrigued and graceful at the same time (Chuckles and gasps). And I realised how beautiful nature was. Soon we left the area and my dad told me how there were only about eighty humpbacks left on the planet. Climate change and plastic pollution had killed the entire species. That was the moment I decided to become an environmental scientist. I’d won many battles against the ‘big guys’ but have lost the war. 95% of fossil fuels are used already and I fear a runaway greenhouse effect is imminent.
“Wow!” she exclaimed as she looked at the picture alongside the page, of a young boy petting a massive whale. She took a moment to imbibe all that she had felt. Thinking quietly all the time.
Moments later she turned to the next story that read ‘My Passion for Food’.
I was tired of the monotony of life. Not having good grades in college, I was forced to work as a salesman for a company that came into existence a year ago. I hated it, but I needed the money. One evening, I was returning to the office when my employer called on me and chastised me for my low-grade work. I snapped and quit there and then. After a month reflecting on my decision, I told my parents everything and asked if I could stay with them for a few days. I wanted to focus on cooking. I loved doing it and everyone loved eating what I cooked. I worked hard to find a job in the hotel sector and finally got a call from a renounced hotel. The manager was to arrive next week to test me as a cook. I was nervous, but I put all I had in me and cooked the most delicious food ever! The manager was so ecstatic that he hired me on the spot and offered me a good salary. I was happy (smiles uncontrollably). I hugged my parents, I called my friends and told the world about it. I went out to the riverside the following afternoon and lay on the fresh grass after the drizzle like I did when I was a kid.
The ground was cold and the sun shone through the stratus clouds. There was no human settlement nearby and I was recumbent on the ground. The wind was gentle and I was sun-kissed. I closed my eyes and smelt the aroma of the vibrant flowers on the wild trees nearby. The sound of the mountain river flowing down in its full might, thrashing against the rocks that stood to block it, put me in a trance. Birds chirped, leaves rustled and an ethereal whisper spread across the land. It was in a long time that I cried out of happiness. Today people mostly work from home and hotels are not in need. The temperatures are soaring high. So I have started a home delivery service. People order over the phone and I deliver through drones. It’s sad in a way.
Genie closed to shut the book and pressed against the chair. She sat there in contemplation for almost an hour, then decided to go to Mrs Gilligan in her personal chamber.
“May I come in, ma’am?”
“I will write this book” she handed over the book of memories.
Mrs Gilligan grinned, “Oh this is one of my favourites. A powerful book. Go ahead. You’ll love this book.”
“Yes ma’am” she paused “Did this book appeal to you?”
“In what sense?” she replied gently.
“In wanting to live on Earth?”
“Of course it did my child! But the fact is that earth is gone. And no matter how hard you try, wanting the impossible will always lead to a heartbreak.”
Genie sighed, looked up and said, “Why would we destroy something so vivid and beautiful for our greed? Were there not people to fight for the planet? Why didn’t they succeed?”
“It is because of human nature. It is embedded in our genes. When we forget our roots, like the earthlings forgot theirs, we are blinded. The value of something is only comprehended when it is lost and all that is left then is regret. Thousands of years, when people forget how much we left behind to move to Mars, we probably will destroy this planet as well and move on. Change is imminent. The only thing you can work on is delaying that change from a few thousand to a few million years.”
“Can’t we go back and fix it?”
“All forms of life on Earth are dead. The land, or the ocean. Earth is changing to Venus.”
“Can I do nothing about it?” she started growing restless.
Mrs Gilligan took a deep breath, turned away to look outside into the dark sky and replied calmly, “You can always try.”
*Imran writes his stories at http://commotionofemotions.blogspot.ca/…/post-anthropocene.…