A Nightmare by Richard Bleil
It was raining. Not a hard driving rain, though. It was just barely more than a drizzle. I was in the rain without an umbrella or raincoat, like so many others in the street, but we weren’t enjoying the rain. We were just wandering through it in the hopes that the toxins and radiation in the rain would end us sooner.
This was how the dream opened. It was bleak, dark and miserable. Most people were already dead, and the rest of us were just waiting for the end to come. We had killed the world, and those of us remaining knew it wouldn’t be long before we joined the dead. Most businesses were closed, partly because with the remaining population there just wasn’t a base economy to support businesses, but also because there just weren’t enough people left alive to find employees. My uncle happened upon me as I milled about the street and gave me a gift of three deposits into a savings account another uncle had opened for me. I was a young adult, barely old enough to have even begun living on my own. The deposits, in total, amounted to about fifteen thousand dollars, hardly making me a wealthy man, but with the economic collapse it made me well off, and with nothing to really spend the money on it may have been a million dollars. I started thinking about what I could possibly use the money on and thought of traveling, but that morning the last airline announced it would no longer be flying.
So, go my nights. Rarely do I have happy dreams these days, and I’m left with visions that I cannot erase. And I’m left wondering their meaning. Was this a dream of impending ecological disaster? The combination of pollutants and radiation imply a nuclear holocaust, so perhaps it’s a dream of nuclear war. I wonder what Greta Thunberg would think of this dream.
As a people, we do have a habit of exploiting natural resources to the point of extinction. I’m teaching chemistry in a program with a significant emphasis on ecology (no doubt the influence of the department leader), and I have worked as an environmental analytical chemist as well. In my youth, there as a lot of discussion and concern about running out of oil, and development of alternative energy in anticipation of this critical shortage. Today nobody seems concerned about this eventuality. In fact, with the previous administration opening up former wildlife reserves for oil exploration and exploitation it seems the major concern has shifted, and rightfully so, to the global warming the carbon dioxide production is causing.
Species are hunted to extinction as well. We love the products of these animals so much, that the great sea turtles are nearly gone for their shells, and elephants are on the brink for their tusks. Seems like a waste to those of us who simply love seeing and being around the living creatures, but it’s hard to turn a profit on turtles and elephants that roam free and wild. But we’re to blame as well. After all, we’re the ones who purchased the pianos with ivory keys, and the carved genuine elephant tusks for a few dollars so it can sit on our mantles.
Whales are another species that have been hunted nearly to extinction for their blubber. Ironically, I read the other day that whales may also have a significant impact on mitigating global warming. As it turns out, these massive creatures, because of their sheer size, are great carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from their local environment and thus having a cooling effect. How ironic that as we continue building up greenhouse gases that will eventually kill us all, we’re simultaneously killing the animals and cutting down the trees that would help to save us.
The Obama administration, in joining the Kyoto treaty, promoted clean energy and energy conservation innovations reinvigorating the industry originally geared towards preparing for oil to run out. He also beefed up some environmental regulations to ensure that the larger polluters had to clean up after themselves since, after all, the people owning those businesses have to be told to clean their rooms like you have to remind toddlers. The last administration pulled the rug out from under the alternate energy industries and instead gave that money to oil and coal, the very industries causing our problems today. At the same time, he undid not only the Obama regulations, but a lot of the previous environmental protections that so successfully cleaned up our environment in the ‘70’s and has kept our air and water clean ever since.
And here we all are, milling around in the gentle rain, simply waiting for the toxins to kill us all.