“Water everywhere, and not a single drop is clean,” thought LJ. Gazing out from the deck of the ark, he saw an endless expanse of water that, after 500 days of rain, now completely covered the planet. Home life ended in 2020 when human-induced climate change reached a tipping point; the South Pole glaciers melted rapidly, creating intense, relentless storms.
Annie and LJ were entering their second year of living on the water. Years earlier, the couple began working with environmentalists to build massive arks anticipating the global catastrophe. Because of their relationship with the International Seed Vault, they were assigned the Ark of Seed Agriculture, which became the new home to over 930,000 seeds representing the world’s entire biodiversity.
LJ checked the water barrels that held their clean water. It was all they had for drinking, bathing, and watering their numerous gardens. It was intense and nonstop, but both understood they were responsible for seeds that would someday replant earth. Part of their responsibility included raising plants and harvesting the seeds for other arks to grow their food.
He went down to the lowest level, where Annie checked the colossal nets attached beneath the ark. The nets, designed to capture debris, allowed fish and other water life to pass unharmed. At the end of each week, the nets were hoisted on the deck and emptied. Recycling, reusing, and repurposing the contents was an arduous task that every ark was responsible for doing. Cleaning up the waters would take decades.
Nonetheless, it had to be done if there was hope to live on earth again. Each ark participated in a cataloging system that tracked clean-up. Its progress reports helped lift spirits and served as a focal point for everyone to see how their work supported the common goal.
Still, the deep sorrow over the loss of earth permeated their lives. Today LJ was having a hard time with his thoughts.
Annie walked over and wrapped her arms around him. “I think you’re having a rough time. Feel like talking about it?”
“Yes, I cannot stop thinking about all our opportunities to avoid catastrophic climate change. For example, we knew that 80 percent of the world’s population lived in countries that ran ecology deficits, using more resources than their ecosystems could renew. Calculations showed that it took the planet 18 months to regenerate everything used in 12 months. We were taking more from nature than our planet could renew in the year. We also knew that two-thirds of human-made CO2 emissions could have been removed from the atmosphere by replanting our forests worldwide. That was the number one climate change solution.”
“I know, LJ. There were so many actions we could have taken. Like in our homes, eliminating plastic made from fossil fuels. The manufacturing process emitted greenhouse gases that allowed more sun rays to enter the atmosphere – trapping heat and making it hotter. Or Meatless Mondays, because we knew that the livestock industry contributed the most greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. We could have used a power strip to turn off idle devices since reducing energy consumption meant reducing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”
“Annie, it’s true, there was an effort on the part of countries and people who took climate change seriously to head it off, but we could have done so much more. Now billions have died, and the rest of us live like this, floating on completely contaminated water. We must fix this, and it will take generations.