When fireworks are set off, they leave a skeleton. A dusty, spidery imprint of where they used to blaze that sits hazily in the air and floats off to become acid rain. There’s a point, usually on New Year's Eve or Independence Day, where the skeletons mass together to create one giant, smoky cloud that makes it impossible to actually see the fireworks anymore. Because of it, they’re no longer beautiful, only excess flickering behind a massive smog, like tiny explosions on a battlefield.
The next day, the skies are clear. No one notices the dimming of the stars until it’s irreversible.
When one actually takes the time to go out and see the world, it’s impossible not to notice nature among the concrete; from a tiny seedling sprouting up between the sidewalk cracks to a medieval castle being choked by vines and swallowed into the soil. There are, of course, protected areas, and reservations for nature, but it never stays put as we’d like it to.
Because of this, the news anchors who drone about carbon emissions and coal, and the scientists who fret about ‘killing the planet' seem miniscule. Humanity won’t ‘kill the planet’, that’s impossible. Humanity will kill itself.
Five mass extinctions in four and a half billion years, and nothing has managed to kill the earth. Species have died, kingdoms have fallen, but another one always replaces it– the titans fall and the gods take their place. Nature resets. A new seed will sprout up between the cracks.
No, humans will not kill the planet. Humanity suffers from the false delusion that the earth is theirs; that they can take its flesh and then cry when it won’t sustain them anymore; that they will be able to make do in a world where nature is against them. When humans take and take and give back nothing, it’s their own foolishness that convinces them not to expect an eviction.
When humans ruin the earth for themselves, they will die, and the earth will thrive in their absence. Nature always wins.
It’s safe to say that humans are selfish creatures, which makes this predicament all the more confusing. Of course, they will ignore it when people speak of dying polar bears and melting ice caps, but we won’t even act to save ourselves anymore, and when that happens, how can anything be solved?
There are multitudes to be done, none of them easy, none of them free, none of them harmless. But we owe it to ourselves not to give up on humanity.
It is beautiful, I think, that the world is strong. That it doesn’t revolve around us, and that climate change is, essentially, an eviction notice. Our earth was kind enough to give us life, but like any giver, it sours when nothing is given back. We can’t expect the earth to continue to care for us when all we do is hurt it, just as we can’t expect a victim to care for an abuser. We cannot beat into submission what gave us our existence. It will survive after we’ve gone.
Those who grew up before the earth was completely suffocated know that when an unlucky bird finds itself trapped in a windowed room, it will fly helplessly from each glass wall, soaring back and forth as if on a pendulum. There are multiple windows, multiple doors, dozens of people who can swing one open and let the little bird out, but no one takes the time. It just continues, wondering why it can see freedom but not reach it. I imagine that the bird becomes resentful, hates the walls and turns on the windows in its frustration with the undeniable– that even if the bird never makes it out, the room will be just fine.
I’ve never seen one such bird set free. Such a simple solution, but no one ever steps up and helps.