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Perfect Planet

Hi everyone, my name is Leah Wright and I’m a junior at MSU studying Professional Writing and English with creative writing. This is a nonfiction piece I wrote for a class last semester while I was also in a class about sustainability. Mainly, I wrote to just explore my thoughts and concerns about climate change. I’m excited to publish it on this blog!

 

  1. One of my mother’s favorite stories to tell is when we were driving across Michigan years ago, and I stare out the window – at the constant stream of evergreen trees and overcast sky blending together out the car window like someone dragged their hand across a watercolor painting before it was able to dry.

 

She sets this moment the same way every time – my family in a minivan and me, twisted in the back seat, nose pressed up against the window.

 

We are driving through Jackson, my mom says, not a particularly beautiful area. Home to southern Michigan suburbia, as well as the state prison. Regardless, I am a five-year-old, staring out the window of my parent’s 2003 Honda Odyssey.

 

You turn to me, my mom says, and say, “It’s a beautiful world, mama.”

 

I was an overly optimistic child. This is true. But I was not a liar – it is a beautiful world. Even Jackson, Michigan. Sometimes.

 

 

 

  1. I took a class once that had us calculate our ecological footprint. (Ecological footprint – (noun): the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources). I found that in order to have the earth sustain me – me, who I consider to be relatively sustainable… one, in the over 7 billion – I would need 2.5 planets.

 

Two and a half planets. I am one, in over 7 billion.

 

 

 

  1. I fell in love with the sun a long time ago. I liked how our planet literally revolved around a rolling ball of fire that controlled the seasons. I liked how people said the sun is the reason there is life on earth, but the sun will also implode one day and swallow earth whole. A rolling ball of fire that makes the leaves change color and will eventually eat the earth. There’s nothing that was more wild than that.

 

 

 

  1. I play this game sometimes with my friends called “What Are the Odds?” The way it works is one person typically asks another “What are the odds [you will do this wild and crazy thing]?” And the other typically replies “One in [a number, creating a range, large or small depending on how willing they are to do the wild and crazy thing].” On the count of three, said persons say a number within the range at the same time, and if they both say the same number, the person who replied with the range has to do the wild and crazy thing.

 

What are the odds that we live on a perfect planet? With dark blue water and temperatures within our range of tolerance and flowers and sunsets and waterfalls and thunderstorms and snow days and children who laugh?

 

I would say about one in 7 billion.

 

 

 

  1. I am doing research on climate change, and I’m finding articles about life on Mars in the midst of my “what happens after earth is gone” searches. It dawns on me that people actually truly believe it is okay if we exhaust earth until she is truly exhausted because Mars is a Plan B. I think about who would get to go to Mars – if that was truly the only solution. I think it would be the very, very rich. A majority of whom seem to be the least concerned about the dying planet. The rest would be left on the dying planet.

 

 

 

  1. In one of my required science classes, we learned about these things called positive feedback loops. It’s a process that occurs in which the effects of a small disturbance in a system increases the magnitude of the perturbation. There is essentially no way of stopping them.

 

For example, the bright white arctic ice reflects heat from the sun back into the atmosphere. But when the earth is experiencing widespread global warming, the ice melts, exposing more and more of the dark ocean water. The dark ocean water absorbs the sun’s heat, warming the oceans and, in turn, warming the globe.

 

 

 

  1. In other species we have seen an exponential climb in population – one that looks oddly similar to the human population that has skyrocketed in the last 30 years. In other species, there is eventually a crash in population, for the species is exhausting the resources it needs to survive.

 

Humans are already exhausting the resources we need to survive. Scientists are predicting a crash circa 2050.

 

Circa 31 years.

 

 

 

  1. I checked the world’s population yesterday, and it was 7.6600 people. I checked today, not even 24 hours later and the population climbed to 7.6625. Assuming this rate is a good indicator of what happens on a daily basis, this would add 1.6 million people to the planet per week, if not more.

 

By 2050, that’s a minimum of 20 billion human beings on the planet.

 

 

 

  1. My family has a cottage in northern Wisconsin, on a tiny lake called Upper Kaubashine. I remember driving back there at night one summer, and just happening to look up. I remember being absolutely speechless, for stars that bright only looked this way in stock photos.

 

After that night, my cousins and I had a new favorite thing to do that summer. We would row canoes into the middle the lake in the middle of the night, tie them together, and lie perpendicular to them, letting our feet dangle in the water while we watched the light show up above.

 

I fell in love with the stars, almost as much as I fell in love with the sun.

 

 

 

  1. Over half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016. Life underwater that has previously been described as other worldly, is dying because we are literally heating the planet and heating the oceans and baking the coral reefs.

 

 

 

  1. On November 23, 2018, the United States Government released the climate report. A document that stated the dire situation of the earth’s climate. A document that stated we have an estimated 12 years until the effects of climate change are irreversible. This document is typically released in December.

 

November 23rd was Black Friday. Presumably, the one day of the year where most of America is shopping and paying little to no attention to what is happening in the news.

 

 

 

  1. I used to want a big family, and I used to want to show my big family all the wonders of the world. I used to want to take them to the middle of Upper K and have them lie in canoes and watch the stars. I used to want take a drive through Jackson, MI, and tell them to maybe look at the blue sky and the big old trees and tell them that if you can find the beauty in Jackson, MI you will probably be able to find it just about anywhere. I have always wanted to tell them about how the sun is gentle, and it will tan your skin and warm your soul, but it is also the most powerful thing in the universe and it should never be mistaken for anything less.

 

But what does 12 years give me? Not enough to exhaust a washing machine, not enough to watch my future children graduate from high school, from college. Not enough to move to Mars.

 

Twelve years, until the perfect planet is past the point of no return.

 

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