The day we left Earth behind

Grown sickly, toxic
its seas choked with human invention
a planet grown alien in our time,
the day we left Earth behind.
We built rockets using a science,
once used to feed the universal lust
for the latest trend,
the day we left Earth behind.
Abandoned were the zoos that held
a few remaining specimens
of a species that had
gone inexplicably missing in the wild.
Lost beneath rubble and rubbish
were the bones of a great medicine man
who told of an earth born of wind and spirit,
the day we left Earth behind.

Can’t drink the water, can’t breathe the air

Credit Reuters/Stringer
Rush hour in Daqing, China, October 21st.
Credit Reuters/Stringer

An unusually toxic smog descended on cities in the far northeast of China, near the border with Russia. Harbin, a city of about 11 million people, was virtually shut down, as were smaller cities in the region like Daqing and Shenyang.

Such destructive air pollution events are common in industrial China, and there are no wide-scale efforts to combat them. In late 1952, a killer smog in London caused thousands of deaths and led to radical environmental legislation.

Smog in Harbin, China. October 21st
Smog in Harbin, China. October 21st

It seems sensible that if China is to become the cultural and economic center of the world, it must address these environmental concerns. At some point, economic growth is hindered by the damage done to the land and the people who live on it. Also grand landmarks like the San Sophia church pictured will always have fewer tourists if the backdrop is so grim.