Pollution - by Alessandro Imperatore
“This is the pilot Terence Mal speaking. It’s 6pm on May 21st of the year 2050, on the terrestrial calendar. I am about to start an emergency landing manoeuvre. One of the engines is damaged due to a collision with an asteroid. I will attempt a crash landing on a still unexplored planet that is part of the LAR galaxy. The instruments onboard indicate that the planet's climatic conditions appear to be favourable for life…” Terence lay unconscious in the cockpit; the emergency landing had taken place on a large plain that appeared to be composed of a material similar to sand. Luckily, the ship had no significant damage despite the sudden impact. The air indicator inside the capsule indicated that there was still 40% autonomy left. Terence made no sign of returning to consciousness. Instead, something else had started to move. It had the shape of a sphere but was made of gaseous material; one could call it a globe of air. It was called Belor, a transparent globe but with opaque edges, a greyish colour that could float in any direction it preferred. It ended up inside the spacecraft accidentally. After such a terrible journey into space and in the absence of air, its kind, and its natural environment, it can think of only one thing: going outside. It found itself, unwittingly, on a planet very similar to the one it came from, and its amazement increased even more. After having wandered around the deserted plain, it found a city where there were many other air globes. But they were different. They did not have the same greyish colour on their opaque edges but instead were purely transparent, similar to the ones Belor had already seen in crystal clear water or diamonds. This was an element highly sought after by humans. Belor decided to get closer, intrigued by everything it saw. Suddenly, Belor was forced to stop by two much larger globes glowing with strange internal energy; it seemed like something dangerous! Belor was asked what it was and where it came from and was sad that their interaction was reduced to such limited conversation. It didn't understand what they meant, so instead of answering, it spontaneously asked what they were. The two globes replied that they were guards and were protecting Arcadia, the city of air. They told Belor that it had been stopped because, despite looking like them, it was different. They were afraid that it was infected with an unknown and hazardous illness. Belor still did not understand and replied that everyone was equal on the planet it came from, the Earth. The guards led it to the high consulate to meet the master globes. They wanted to hear its story. Belor told them about its planet, the creatures that populated it, how it lived, and 62 63 Part 3: Climate change how it accidentally ended up there. It said that it had never thought that other planets besides Earth were inhabited by globes so different from itself. The high consulate was appalled by Belor's tales; they had just learned that an entire planet was sick, that the way of life on it was flawed, and that the culprit seemed to be the strange figure that Belor had called “human”, which had just arrived on their planet in a peculiar object. On reflection, Belor explained that, indeed, harmony did not seem to reign on planet Earth and that the elements and nature were in a state of permanent agitation. When he compared the globes of Earth with those of Arcadia, those on Earth now appeared sad and shabby. The high consulate explained to Belor that this was the result of a sickness, that its grey colour indicated that its quality had been altered and that its air was no longer pure but contaminated. What Belor saw on Arcadia was the true shape of the air globes, that the air represented life, without which no organism can survive. They told it that no living organism would be so insane as to alter the life-giving air it breathes. They explained further how everything on their planet existed in harmony, governed by unknown laws as old as the universe itself. There were also living creatures on this planet, some more evolved (like humans on Earth), and they were structured as a society with cutting-edge technologies. However, they did not use this technology to repair the damage to the planet because the idea of this was absurd. The thought of causing damage to your own planet, your home, seemed unimaginable. Here, they lived in perfect harmony; everything was balanced. They also showed Belor how they had different globes, which had been produced by natural events such as the explosion of rocks. Belor smiled and said that, back home on Earth, this phenomenon was called a volcanic eruption. Although these explosions may temporarily contaminate the globes, shortly after, they would return to their purest form, thanks to the laws as old as the creation of the universe. Belor explained that the humans who had landed on this planet could alter this balance by bringing what the globes of Arcadia had called "disease", such as strange factories and other harmful objects. At the same time, Belor explained some of these technologies used on Earth were capable of repairing damage by creating unique buildings, such as towers that could clean the air globes. The high consulate said the best thing to do was not to remedy the damage but to make humans aware of how not to cause any more damage. If they had valued a culture based on respect for the forces of the universe, and if they had been able to pass this on to their descendants, they would have undoubtedly been able to live in harmony with nature as on Arcadia. If these humans were indeed intelligent enough to have built strange objects that could change the laws of nature, then they really could have lived much more than just well if they used that intelligence wisely. Belor, without even knowing why, felt relieved and hopeful; it was aware that this was the right path and knew that now there was a goal. It thanked the high consuls for sharing their knowledge with him and returned to the ship with an inner turmoil and excitement it had never felt in its entire life. Terence was still asleep when Belor entered his nostrils and woke him up. Terence was suddenly awake, stunned and perplexed about what had happened. He felt something inside him had changed; he felt a new awareness, and he had concrete ideas and memories in his mind. But how? Where did they come from? What had happened? He didn't know; maybe he had a strange dream? The last thing he remembered was that he was looking for a new planet where conditions were favourable for sustaining human life. However, now he knew that this was not the path he wanted to take anymore. Now he knew what he had to do: he had to go home to Earth and heal it. He would do so by making humans aware of the possibilities to live a life in harmony with the elements and nature. Belor was smiling, and both of them, without knowing why, were strangely happy, happy to be soon back on their beloved home planet.