April 21, 2010
Dear members of the species Homo sapiens,
Hi. I’m Earth. While I’m pleased and flattered that you have chosen to honor me on every April 22 for the last 40 years, I am seriously concerned and, frankly, very angry that most of you seem to forget me for the rest of the year. I periodically try to remind you of my power—floods, hurricanes and tornadoes are among my favorite methods—but you may have noticed that I have ratcheted up my work, or at least concentrated it in places you are most likely to notice, in the past six months or so.
I began with the Snowpocalypse in Washington, D.C. back in December, briefly shutting down the government. That was just a small taste of my power. Next was the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 12. I struck again with a true blizzard, Snowmageddon, on the Eastern coast of the United States in February, that time shutting down the nation’s capital for an entire week. Later that month, on February 27, was my magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile. In March, I flooded large portions of New England. But my pièce de résistance really has to be this month’s eruption of the Icelandic volcano that created a volcanic plume that shut down much of European air travel.
Now that I have your attention, I have a list of demands:
- Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. I don’t care how, but this is really for your own benefit. I survive just fine no matter how hot I get, but you’re not going to like most of the results of climate change.
- Quit using my natural resources so quickly. Again, I make this demand to help you. At the rates you’re going, I could easily run out of things like fish, wood, oil and some metals soon. I’ll be sad to see them go, but you’re going to have bigger problems.
- It took a very long time for my mountains to grow. Stop cutting off their tops to get to the coal and minerals underneath. Mountains don’t grow back like hair does.
- I know that dams may seem an easy way to create energy, but they really mess me up. They fragment ecosystems, send species into extinction and may even trigger earthquakes. Look for other, more environmentally friendly ways to generate electricity.
- Quit dumping your stuff everywhere. Didn’t your parents teach you to keep your home clean?
As you no doubt know, I can be far more violent and destructive than I have been in the last few months, but these were just wake up calls. And you can go ahead and ignore me; I’ll survive. Really, from my point of view, what you’re doing is simply annoying. But your activities are hurting your own species in the long run. So even if you don’t care about me, you might want to think about yourselves.
(This post was included in Scientia Pro Publica 28, where you’ll find more great science writing.)
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