I’d grown up here, several decades ago, in a small village surrounded by deciduous woodland. Now I’ve returned to find myself surrounded by a concrete jungle. My heart weeps.
There aren’t many of us left now, humans I mean. Mother Nature has done her best to cleanse us from the Earth. I can’t say that I blame her. Global warming caused major weather events; hurricanes, tornados and tsunamis wiped out hundreds of thousands of people. Many species of animals, those that lived in small localised areas were, tragically, lost from the world forever. Some countries experienced blisteringly hot summers, causing massive wildfires that destroyed major cities, followed by freezing cold winters that killed many more humans as they fought one another for shelter. Perhaps, if they’d worked together instead, things might have been different. We’d never been good at that.
In Britain we have winters now that feel interminably long. They’re warmer and wetter, then the intense heat of summer is suddenly upon us. We’ve become a country of two seasons; spring and autumn, meteorologically, a long lost memory. Many species such as the capercaillie, salmon and cod have become locally extinct in our little country. All of them tragic losses, but our climate is no longer conducive to their needs.
The country had become overpopulated. Cities grew and took over vast swathes of countryside, affecting many species of insect, especially the bees, our major pollinators, which had a major impact on crop growth. Britain had been unable to sustain itself.
New diseases cropped up so frequently that scientists could barely produce the vaccines quickly enough, until one particularly nasty SARS virus killed the majority of the remaining human population worldwide.
Now the few of us that remain are left with this – a sad, grey, barren land.
And yet, as I look, I notice little patches of greenery growing through cracks on the concrete. I lift a rock and disturb a nest of ants, and just over there, a dandelion sways gently in a ray of sunlight. It seems that there is still a little slice of paradise after all.