When the sun still shone brightly, before the clouds of toxins, there were birds that would fly through the sky. Little ones and larger ones of all different shapes and colors flew through it. The sky appeared, then, long ago, blue on most of the days.
Beneath that sky was the land. Many different species of animals roamed on it, alongside us. It was not unlike the land you know today, except that it was not covered with concrete and asphalt. There were trees. They grew in many places, and they had green leaves. Green? That is the color we paint the artificial lawns of the wealthy. Lawns were once real, filled with grass, a green plant that grew across the land. The wealthy wish to remember what that is like, and that is why we have work.
We had rivers, and streams, filled with crystal clear water that used to reflect the color of the sky and would appear blue. It did more than carry our industrial waste and sewage. We could capture it and treat it for drinking and cooking. There were vast aquifers of water under the ground. Yes, those are what the wells are for. Yes, they are running dry.
The oceans used to have fish living in them. Before they turned to acid and lost oxygen. People could eat the fish they caught from the ocean. No, the toxic algae wasn’t that much of an issue, long ago. The chemicals began to show up in some fish, but those fish could be avoided for a time. Eventually, they either showed up in all the fish, or the fish simply could not live in our oceans any longer.
Long ago, the ocean was further away. You can still see the tops of some of the buildings peeking out from the water when the tide is out. That was a very large city. It was gradually abandoned as the waters began to rise. That building over there? On the edge of the water? That was a desalinization plant. It tried to take the salt from the ocean water so that we could drink it. It worked for a few years, but the water became too toxic to treat even after the salt was removed.
Okay, enough questions for now, I think they are watching us. Hand me some more paint, please.
Long ago, some men, convinced that nothing mattered more than money, decided to make it so that all of this would be impossible to stop. Long ago, they prevented the development of technologies that could have slowed or reversed some of the damages we have caused. They removed restrictions from doing the greatest damage, knowing that they would be rich and living in luxury when they left this world, long ago. Now their children and grandchildren hire people like us to paint their lawns, as they watch their protected enclaves get smaller and smaller. Yet they still speak of their fathers and grandfathers as if they were great men.
Where is your mother? Why are you working alongside this old man?
Oh, I am sorry to hear that. It is an honor to work beside such a responsible child. I am sure it can’t be easy taking care of a family at your age.
How can we fix this? What should you do now? You ask these questions as if I have answers.
I am sorry. I am near death. I can feel my body beginning to give up this fight. I can’t help you there. I am not certain there is anything you can do. I do not mean to sound hopeless. But, in my opinion, something needed to be done long ago.