Mother reading to her child from a children’s ecology book. Thus, a text even a child can understand.
Mother – We live on a planet that rotates around the sun, creating a balanced system. The day is balanced by night, cold is balanced by hot, rainy and snowy days are balanced by sunny and dry days, the oxygen we breathe in, given to us by plants, is balanced by the carbon dioxide gasses we and other animals expel, which the plants absorb. You see, balance is the operating system for everything on the planet, including us. We’re active during the day and rest at night, we work hard but balance it with play. Spring and summer are balanced by fall and winter and we adjust our activities and diets accordingly.
The precocious child interrupts.
Child – Mother, if everything is balanced, didn’t cutting down most of the trees create an imbalance? I mean, with deforestation happening at the same time petroleum production was exponentially being increased, causing billions of tons of additional greenhouse gasses to be expelled into the atmosphere, didn’t that throw the whole system out of whack. Didn’t we need more trees, not less, to absorb all those gasses? Doesn’t that explain the planet’s climate issues?
Mother – My, you’re a smart child, but whether you believe that or not depends on your political affiliation.
Child – Wait…what?
Mother – It’s hard to explain. You see most people learned about climate change from a politician, so the party that opposed him automatically assumed he was an ass. You see, Democrats and Republicans balance each other out, making sure nothing ever gets done.
Child – Don’t politicians pay attention to what the science is telling us?
Mother (rubbing her eyes) – Well, they don’t like dealing with unpleasant realities, unless it’s something they can bomb, so science doesn’t matter all that much. It’s one of those unexplainable mysteries.
Child – How can that be? Don’t they enjoy and appreciate modern conveniences like everyone else, all of it coming from scientific advances? Doesn’t it smack them in the face all day long?
Mother – Yes, but they’re more focused on obtaining power.
Child – I see, but once they have power, wouldn’t they focus on the science, then?
Mother – You would think so, but no, they continue to focus on business and power.
Child – That doesn’t make any sense.
Mother – I know dear, but when you’re focused on obtaining money and power, that remains your focus. Otherwise you might lose power.
Child – So if they were to focus on science and reality, then that would remain their focus?
Mother – Yes, I’m sure it would.
Child – So how come they can’t see that?
Mother – Because the people who vote them into power are focused on the same thing, obtaining power.
Child – I’m confused. How can they get power?
Mother – Well, they believe they’ll have power by association from the people they voted in.
Child – But they don’t?
Mother – No, because once they’re voted in, they continue to focus on keeping their power.
Child – So let me get this straight. The planet is kept in balance by the forces of nature, but people are balanced by power, a system that never accomplishes anything.
Mother – -Essentially, yes. But people are also subject to the same laws of balance. Our bodies are balanced around a certain temperature and pH, for instance, but when we focus on power, we tend to focus on ourselves instead of being in balance with our surroundings, and thus we don’t take much notice of how destructive we can be, such as when we overpower some of the planet’s natural systems and throw everything, like the climate, out of balance.
Child – How can we be so powerful when the planet is so big and we’re so small?
Mother – Because we’re a part of the planet, just like the microscopic bacteria in your gut are part of you, and we’re no different from any other species. All species would unwittingly take over the planet and destroy it if they could because they don’t know any better, but fortunately the forces of nature keep them in check. They are, in their own way, focused on power, too, as each individual carves out its territory and tries to procreate, like us, thereby inadvertently increasing the size of their population as a whole.
Child – How come these forces don’t keep us in check?
Mother – They’ve been trying to, through diseases and droughts and even our natural tendencies, such as fighting wars (which come down to more power struggles), but we have more abilities than most species – we can drill for oil and build machines and create medicines, for example, and overcome those forces.
Child – Okay, but if the planet is a balanced system, wouldn’t it eventually have to find a way to humble us and bring us back into balance, otherwise it would all break down and come to an end?
Mother – Yes. It’s like when a person drinks too much and they get a hangover. Most people take it easy the next day to bring their bodies back into balance, but if they don’t, if they keep drinking, then their bodies become increasingly unbalanced and eventually they become diseased and die prematurely.
Child – So climate change is just a symptom of a disease, and the disease is our imbalance?
Mother – Very good, that’s correct.
Child – Doesn’t that mean we’re doomed if we don’t change and learn to live in balance with the planet?
Mother – It would seem so, but no one knows for sure how that’s going to unfold or when.
Child – So will I have a safe planet to live on when I grow up?
Mother – It’s hard to say.
Child – I don’t like this story.
Mother – No one does.
Child – But if we know all this, why doesn’t anyone do something about it before it’s too late?
Mother – You already know the answer to that.
Child (mulling things over for a minute) – Because they’re focused on obtaining power?
Mother (nodding) – Yep, power and politics and self-interest, and waiting for someone else to do something.
Child – I see, which accomplishes nothing and lets our natural tendency, to obtain power and grow the population, to continue.
Mother – Exactly.
Child – So there’s no stopping this unless we recognize who we are and install a system to stop us from destroying ourselves, since nature won’t be able to do so until it’s too late. I guess we need to get people focused on balance instead of power.
Mother – That’s right! You’re so smart. Maybe someday you’ll be a senator, or even president of the united states, then you can put in the necessary regulations.
Child (excited) – Then I can get the power!
Mother and child look at each other sheepishly.
Child – Balance takes work, doesn’t it?