..continued from previous
He switched off the news and turned on the coffee machine: an old model from 15 years ago that still worked, having somehow escaped the manufacturer’s obsolescence curse. The water began to percolate, the trickling sound of the pump in the machine echoing through John’s scantily furnished studio flat. John would sometimes daydream while staring at the brown droplets falling one by one through the filter, right into the center of the pot. Upon impact, they would send one, big circular tsunami to the edge of the glass which would be reflected by the walls of the pot, often coming back exactly at the center – just in time to meet the next brown droplet falling from above.
The process is repeated hundreds of times, millions of times across coffeemakers around the world on this same morning. Yet whatever the machine model, the physical laws are always the same: gravity, temperature, and the solution coefficient of coffee grains. The same physical laws that determine the pH, temperature, and chemical content of our seas. Change the settings even slightly, and you’re likely to end up with a very different kind of coffee.
But Earth is not a coffee machine. There are no on and off switches or options to go back to a different time, change the coffee filter and reboot. On Earth everything is interconnected, like millions of coffee machines dripping into one another, arranged in a circular chain like a Chinese Whisper: keeping the coffee constantly on the move, constantly fresh. If you make one change, if you break one of the pots, all the coffee will eventually spill. Just one disturbance can have a million downstream effects: the rise in CO2 was now filtering through the coffee machines of the planet, destabilizing every single natural process.
John looked out of the window again. He looked at the sea with compassion. He looked at the phytoplankton with compassion. He looked at the grey sky, the horizon, the mountain overlooking the sea. They all looked helpless, stuck in a bad nightmare, unable to run away. He didn’t want to think of everything that must be happening below the sea surface. When John wrote “The Veil” he never suspected it could become reality. But it increasingly felt as if the planet had literally been “taking a page from his book” : reading it sentence by sentence, word for word…
to read from the beginning, go here
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth) – PRE-ORDER NOW:
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books