Tag Archives: Disaster

The Redeemer

When the earth no longer knew what to do with mankind, she decided to release them into space. She didn’t feel particularly proud of her move, but said to herself that it was better this way.

 

John the Baker, floating in outer space, looked at the earth from a distance. Millions of others were serenely drifting into the darkness with him. They looked like many coloured needle points from here. He tried to recognize friends or family.

‘Hey!’ Yelled a man in colourful robes at John from a distance. ‘Hey you there, mister Bakerman. John, was it? I remember you had excellent cookies!’
John the Baker gave him a single piercing look, then looked the other way.
‘We should stick together, you know.’ Said the colourfully clad man, who was managing somehow to move himself in John’s direction, his clothes hovering behind him. ‘The situation is bad enough as it is…’ he kept silent for a while. ‘do you know why she did it?’

John the Baker still tried his best not to give the man any attention. He looked back at the others. They were helplessly gaining more and more distance from what was once their home. It now seemed like an enormous blue orb, hanging in a vast, uncanny infinity of absolutely nothing. Like everyone else. In the distance, he recognized one of his old class mates, with equally little control over her movement as himself. Then he looked back at the big, blue earth. The sight did not comfort him.

‘How do you do that?’ John asked the man in colour.
‘Do what?’
‘Steer your way’
‘Steer my way?’
‘Yes, how do you manage to float in my direction?’
‘How do I manage?’
‘For gods sake, explain me how you do it, hippyman! You’re deciding on your direction’
‘Do you think I want to drift away from the earth?’
‘Look, right now, all I think is that I don’t know what to think, and that I want to get away from you. Do you think you can help me with that?’
‘The earth has expelled me as much as you. I’m not in control at all’
‘But you manage to adjust your direction!’
‘It may seem that way, Bakerman, but I’m really just floating along’
‘Hey, you know what?’ said John, who had a bright idea. ‘We could push ourselves off each other, and then both go in a new direction.’
‘Well I suppose we could’ answered the other ‘but you haven’t answered my question yet.’
‘Which question?’
‘Why do you think she did it’
‘Who did what?’
‘The earth, Bakerman. Why did she release us into space?’
‘What kind of question is that? There’s some kind of physical explanation for this…’
‘Look around you, John,’ answered the man. do you see any cows around? Pigs? Any fish? Birds? They’re not here. Nor are there plants or stones or any material except for the umbrella’s and the suitcases people were carrying.’ He grabbed an apple out of space and took a bite of it.
‘It’s just humans. And there’s a lot of them. I’m guessing all… We were released. Purposefully.’
‘Well maybe it didn’t like us anymore, then’ answered John.
‘That’s what I think! We were too disrespectful with her, and now she let us go. John was now close enough to grab the colourful man’s robe, and pulled him in.
‘Look, Hippyman, I have absolutely no intention to be stuck here in space with your happy face or your wild theories after losing everything I had. I honestly don’t care why this is happening, but it needs to stop. I am going back’. With that, he decidedly kicked the man off into the darkness, giving himself momentum back to earth.

 

Earth was, indeed, relieved by the sight of all humans floating in open space. For one thing, she deserved some free time from their constant, demanding presence. If she’d ever miss them, she could always decide to evolve some new ones out of the few remaining monkeys. She’d make them smaller next time. Maybe evolve them from the squirrel monkey. That way, they’d probably not consider hunting down lions or elephants, and they would need smaller houses, so they’d leave more for the others. They’d survive for a week on a chicken’s egg. Yes. That would work. She wondered why she didn’t think of that before.

She would miss them. Humans had by far been the most entertaining species around since the giant dragonfly. Their constant running around in anxiety, their little airplanes flying back and forth, their crazy little inventions, the way they tried to control each other with them, their self-proclaimed independence had all kept her warm inside for many centuries. For a long time, she expected all that to be harmless. It had recently got completely out of hand. The digging started to hurt, and their constant burning of everything became a menace to the others. Tigers had already been complaining about them for years, but when even the birds and the ants came home angry, she was forced to draw her conclusions. Humans had to go.

And it seemed to her that they were far better off in space. Flying was after all what they wanted, right? They could do it all the time now, and they did not need to worry about digging up anything first. They could constantly chill in the sun, had no more weight to carry or bills to pay, had no more responsibilities to carry or wars to fight. All of that was gone for them now. No, she didn’t doubt that out there, these people would find the redemption they deserved.

 

When, after a long flight back to the ground, John finally hit the earth again, he bounced back from it as if nothing had happened. There simply was no more attraction. He grabbed a far reaching branch. It ripped.

John had by now had some time to ponder what the hippyman had asked him. He didn’t understand what he’d done to deserve this. A lifetime of bread baking. Day in day out. Did he feed Nazis without knowing? Did he accept the money of manipulative traders? Unethical judges? But drifting away from the earth for a second time, he could not see any humans left behind. He understood he shouldn’t take the action personally. And yet he felt betrayed.

The floating itself was quite a thrilling experience. John never expected to be able to see the earth slowly gain distance below him this way. The sky was clear, and the tickling sensation of air passing by his ear was in fact quite pleasant. Moving his limbs didn’t cost him any effort. And okay, he was unable to steer himself in any direction, but where did he really have to go? Seeing the horizon slowly get rounder and rounder had something magical about it. Perhaps it was okay this way.

‘Watch out!’
He saw a woman in a dark green woman’s suit comet down from above. It seemed that their courses would cross somewhere ahead.
‘What can I do?’ Yelled John.
‘I don’t know!’
‘I’ll grab you!’ Yelled John.
‘No!’ she screamed back in slight panic.
Some seconds later, the woman’s leg crushed into Johns diaphragm. He choked. Throwing his arms around the leg, he got a hold of it and gulped. Her leg moved as if she wanted to get rid of him. Slowly revolving, they drifted in a new, common direction.
‘Let me go!’ she screamed. ‘I’m going back to earth!’
‘I just was there’ John answered. ‘you bounce against the surface and float back into the sky’
‘I’ll grab a tree’
‘Tried that, the branch broke’. He held the branch in front of her face, holding her leg only with one arm now.
‘Mine won’t’
‘It’s a thick branch, see?’ John said, and tried to catch a bypassing piece of chocolate with it.
‘Let me go!’ The woman yelled.
‘There is no-one down there.’
‘How would you know? You bounced back’ she said. Then she pushed and kicked herself loose, projecting John further into space.

In the black distance above him floated a group of people holding on together. They were shaped like a big ball. He heard some babbling from their direction. John couldn’t make out if they were partying or fighting. The ball moved awkwardly, a discharged, clumsy blob. Perhaps he could find a way to join them. He hit his branch against a briefcase to his left. It redirected him.

 

When the earth saw more people return, she created thermal columns to push them back. Her position was clear. No more humans, not even those who seemed okay. They’d multiply and turn into disaster. Blowing the returnees away perfectly supported that stance. Good. It was time to hang back, relax and enjoy the rest.

 

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Appearances

Walking through the Flevopark I saw this scene and took a picture of it. It shows a tree that has fallen down, lifting its roots in the process. The roots have ripped along a mat of soil from the ground, revealing disturbingly well arranged bricks. The tree, no longer standing, is now growing branches from its trunk. Out of the view jump an awfull lot of questions and speculations into my mind.

One might ask why the tree fell over, since it doesn’t seem too heavy, but you’d immediately answer: because as you can see, it barely has roots. True, but why is that? It seems obvious at first: it could not grow roots because of those bricks. Then again, why did it not simply reach through, disorganize them, and find its stability deeper down? Those little seedlings below sure didn’t have a problem with that. Well, one could answer, it did not root deeply because it was positioned at the height of the water and it did not need to look any further. In which case the bricks may have nothing to do with the downfall whatsoever.

What are those bricks doing there, anyway? They can’t be there for long yet, because they’d have had too much time to sink away or lose their structure. But someone arranged them there deliberately. Why? Surely not to support the establishment of the vegetation? Are those bricks under the entire park? And what are they lying on? Sand? Concrete?

Will the tree survive, now that it has claimed a bigger land? Will the branches form new stems, and will the stem grow new roots? Was this all part of its plan? I doubt it. Even though I admire the trees courage to keep growing after this disaster, I suspect the water will quickly suck its way through. It is probably rotting already, on its way to be pulp in a few years.

So what are we looking at here? Is this humans millionth failed attempt to do something constructive with nature? Is this a painful proof of how we don’t even manage to keep our city parks in one piece? Is it a millionth tragically failed attempt of nature to make something out of our ridiculous inventions?

Or is this a success story and am I missing out on something essential? If you have a clue, please let me know.

Iceberg!

My hay fever started in the beginning this week. I don’t believe this ever happened in March before. It usually comes in May, last year in June. I saw butterflies fluttering around the beginning of last month and the first wasp entered our house today.  Yet perhaps the most discomforting sign of seasonal extremities was the man with the ice cream van in front of the window on a February night. I can assure you: if that happens in the Netherlands it means trouble.

This was the week in which the IPCC presented its fifth report compiled by 300 top-notch international scientists. Some media largely ignored it. Perhaps they didn’t consider it important enough. Or maybe they believe that whatever we don’t give attention does not exist? Others spoke of it using terms like food-pocalypse  – it’s tempting to be original – or in more a nuanced way: “justified rise in global concern“. IPCC has a conservative stand in presenting climate data. The facts have never been as clear as they are now.

It is now officially proven that humans have caused or amplified much of the climatic extremities we see, and we know that they are likely to keep doing so, with self increasing consequences. Take the simple example of drought caused by increased heat. It will cause forests to burn more easily, and by doing so, release more CO2 in the atmosphere. This will cause more heating, more burning and even more CO2 . Another example. A forest is like a sponge: it sucks up water and keeps it on the spot. As you know, plants need that water to grow. Now, what happens if that forest gets burnt or cut down? No more sponge, no more water, and no return of the trees. This has happened before, in the worst cases it is called desertification. Such processes are called positive feedback loops. That’s because they increase themselves, not because they predict utopia.

Reality is more complex than these examples, because there are negative feedback loops as well. That is one of the reasons why the IPCC uses terms such as “likely”, “more likely than not” or “very likely”. This time, however, with the arrival of new information, they have managed to present rather unpleasant findings as “virtually certain”. Time has lifted our doubts, catastrophe is upon us. We cannot avoid it anymore, only reduce it’s effects. But politicians remain awfully idle, too occupied with ownership to induce a regime of global custody. Hence we arrived at the day when climate experts predict more war.

Strangely enough, there’s something in this story that deeply comforts me. Apparently, I’m not the only one who believes that humanity has gone insane. There are experts out there who agree, and what’s more, nature herself starts striking back. Perhaps there is a time in the future when we’ll learn from what we’ve done.