“Do you still have snow, people of 2115?”
So what’s the big deal? It’s getting warmer. Do you still have snow, people of 2115? It’s fun to ski in but a drag to drive in. Hell, if I want to cool off there’s always the beach, and they say the water will be higher – not as far to drive … if there’s gas. I mean, snow’s always around if you want it, like in the Yukon or Alaska. Oh, wait, the poles are melting, what was I thinking?
Now I don’t know what’s going on your lives, people of the 22nd century. Maybe you flourish underground, breathing filtered air. Maybe water is desalinized from the more voluminous ocean. Maybe relative your lives, there’s no real problem. Gardens, snow-capped mountains, coniferous forests, I mean they’re just indulgent aesthetic constructs of us romantic 21st century oddballs.
A long time ago, I’m talking 2.3 billion years ago, the Earth underwent another climactic upheaval - global cooling. The culprits that time were also living organisms, microbes. These animals, called cyanobacteria, dwell in the soil and are credited with holding dirt in place. So their existence allowed plants and animals to evolve. The cyanobacteria operate like plants: They carry out photosynthesis, breaking down carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But for some reason cyanobacteria suddenly multiplied off the charts.
The overpopulation of cyanobacteria caused an immense amount of oxygen to be spewed into the atmosphere, scientists theorize. The excess oxygen broke down the atmospheric methane, which absorbed sunlight and kept the Earth warm. In an ironic twist, without the methane blanket (now a greenhouse culprit) the globe cooled to such an extent a mile-thick layer of ice covered the equator. Scientists call this period “Snowball Earth.” The story ended – or continued – with the evolution of oxygen-breathing organisms which exhaled carbon dioxide, thereby restoring the blanket.
We humans of 2015 are today’s reciprocal cyanobacteria. We are far more efficient, however, at altering the temperature of the earth. Not only do we expel carbon dioxide individually in our daily lives, we transport it with our cars, airplanes, global manufacturing and resource destruction. We have been dubbed “mobile warmers.”
I would like to believe we humans have something going for us compared to cyanobacteria, although I must admit we do nothing as important as hold the earth together. But it is our fate to think, love, create and appreciate beauty.
Also to destroy the objects of our love and beauty. People of 2115, you’re living with result.