Selina sits on a bench in the indoor playground. She cherishes these moments alone before sunrise and the students arrive for the morning lessons. The screaming still gets to her. Even though they are the sounds of fun and games, she hears the pain body buried inside those hop-scotch and jacks loving bundles of energy.

“How criminal that these youngsters will never experience an ocean breeze on their face as they run carefree along the water’s edge,” she thinks to herself. “Yes. Criminal,” she whispers aloud in the empty community stadium.

The anger is difficult to contain at times, but years of repressing it and routine medical treatment for the resulting depression has helped Selina manage her insomnia somewhat. She fiddles through her purse and pulls out a plastic box containing an indistinguishable mess of “food”. She plays with it for a while, feeling rather apathetic about the whole feeding process as she contemplates her miserable human existence.

Had it been her choice she would have selected otherwise. But what could she have done to prevent this? As much as she wanted to believe that a small step on her part could have inspired others to follow suit and in turn inspire the whole world, in the end she shrank right back into the comfortable lifestyle her friends and family were hooked on. She just didn’t want to be labelled a radical, a freak, an alarmist, or worse…an eco-terrorist.

Early mornings were Selina’s time to reflect and attempt to forgive the greedy corporations who stole the world’s future by pushing their factory farm products on us. “All for profit and no concern for our health or the planet,” she grumbles to herself. They downplayed the true greenhouse gas impact our meat addiction was having.

“And the government? A bunch of puppets in the clutches of trolls,” as she likes to refer to them.

She takes a bite of her breakfast mulch and forces it down with an exaggerated gulp. “Oh and let’s not forget the fisheries. Another bunch of fascists!” She flicks her arm up in the air with a mock Nazi salute. “Genocide!” She screams. “They went after everything and killed it all.”

Her container goes flying off her lap spilling the cellulose-based muck onto the AstroTurf as the force of her next forkful catches the edge of the container.

A flash of light appears by the school entrance and Victor pokes his head out of the doorway. “Everything alright there Selina?” He brings a bucket and mop across the indoor courtyard and proceeds to clean up the mini disaster.

Unfortunately, the flying food has become a morning ritual which Victor and the community have grown to accept. You see Selina is the last of the first generation of survivors. No one else currently alive has ever set foot outdoors and as such cannot share the pain she feels for the incredible loss humanity has suffered. They can only imagine what it must have been like and empathize with her bitterness. But Selina remembers it all too well…

…It was early morning when the storm hit. Although it appeared to breach the threshold without warning, it was known in advance to some. Regardless, the extent of the carnage eclipsed all expectation. The arrogance of a smattering of handsomely paid bureaucrats, touting the virtues of their equally anointed scientific advisors, chose to repeat the shortcomings of their 21st century ancestors. Even after a dozen or so ill-fated attempts at circumventing the instinctive retaliation of Earth’s intricate ecosystem, from shading the ice sheets of Greenland with enormous reflective tarps, to desalination and glacial harvesting projects, to cooling the seawater off the coast of South Africa, politicians recklessly persevered with futile efforts. After trillions upon trillions of combined personal hours spent labouring to patch a spoiled habitat with feeble intellect, the planet was drained of her vitality and had just a single avenue accessible to her.

The road to recovery was onerous, and the prices demanded en route even more so. City after city was engulfed, land after land was swept into oblivion, species after species became extinct, and child after child was orphaned, often dying of starvation or disease. The battle for sustainability was also fierce. The oceans rebelled, sometimes gradually over the course of months, other times violently, in barely a few hours. As much as the pride of man could not admit accountability, he was somehow able to harness his courage and do everything in his capacity to survive. Cities graced with advantage were fortified and transformed as countries united to evacuate others not as blessed, rebuilding more modest towns at greater elevations. Unfortunately, ventures to preserve the heritage of the people fell short, and crucial historical records were lost.

Nevertheless, on that fateful morning of the ocean’s ultimate wrath, history repeated itself, as it often does. When the wake of the first wave subsided, broken nations sought to regain their prosperity, as they previously remembered it. Concluding that the planet had adjusted itself and was starting to stabilize, the ambassadors of the new order presumptuously declared the rehabilitation complete and embarked on a mission to re-package faulty public policy and sell it to the masses. The glaciers had obviously melted and the impact had been thoroughly absorbed by the hydrosphere, they reasoned, therefore fossil fuels were not likely a recurring hazard. Evidently, the rash conclusion that the earth had finished her metamorphosis was false, and a radical age of human conceit emerged, unleashing the most formidable catastrophe in their abrupt saga… (pages 5-6 from Nemecene: The Epoch of Redress)

…to be continued in Gaia Fights Back.