originally published on 20 october 2014
It’s 2075. The government-sponsored news station has reported that your area, based on a computer generated model, is about to be hit with several severe tsunamis. There really is nowhere to go, as the last few places habitable on the planet are severely overcrowded, and they will soon meet the same fate.
You come to the realization that you may have a week to live. As you take stock of the life you have lived, you find a box your grandparents left you. In it were reminders of the generations of people your family has contained. One of them is a book, written by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, and dedicated to your long lost namesake, Toma.
As you read the book, you realize that we had an opportunity to avoid the catastrophes that have plagued the planet for years. They were avoidable, and possibly reversible, but selfishness and greed, the downfall of every “great” civilization in history, have finally led to our inevitable self-genocide. Nature is batting last, and she has the biggest stick of them all.
You start to cry very early in the book, because you realize the very irony of it all: even your forebear, the author, admits that we were all to blame for this catastrophe. Greed, inaction, and fear most importantly drove us to this place; a place where we are stuck on the railroad tracks, and hearing the sound of the horn and seeing the distant but ever-closing in mass of the engine, we stand there, like deer caught in the headlights, motionless.
The book has a conversational tone, and you feel as if Naomi is talking to you. She also admits that she is no scientist, but that she is a mother, and she wonders if you will ever see the things you read about in school that have long since disappeared, things like starfish and moose. She talks about the very disappearance of creatures like these through disease, drought and the dollar.
You daydream about the passages you have read, imagining the back door political wrangling, that those who promised to make the world a better place are actually in league with the very people who are destroying it, all the time hiding and lying to their supporters about their complicity. It is a world where more people are forced into poverty, and that poverty eradicated because the poor were erased, first through being certain their voices were never heard, and then abandoning them altogether when they proved no longer of any monetary usefulness.
On the days leading to the tsunami’s arrival, other than a quick catnap here and there, you do not sleep. Hours before its impending arrival, you take a sleep aid, knowing your body is exhausted and can give no more. You clutch the book in your hand, lie down, pulling up the sheet and then quickly fall into REM sleep. Naomi, your great-grandmother, greets you. She holds you closely, and with tears running down her face, gently whispers in your ear: “I’m sorry.”
Love to you all.
For more about this non-fiction book and its author, please visit the Simon and Shuster website by clicking the link here.
Photo courtesy of Simon and Shuster