..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 percolating, echoing against the walls and the ceiling of the scantily furnished studio flat. John would sometimes daydream while staring at the brown droplets, falling one by one through the filter and right into the centre of the pot. The process had been repeated hundreds of times, millions of times across coffeemakers around the world on this same morning. Yet whatever the machine model, the physical laws were always the same: gravity, temperature, and the solution coefficient of coffee grains. The same physical laws that determined 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 and reboot. On Earth, every process feeds into another process, and another one and another one into infinity, like millions of coffee machines arranged like a Chinese Whisper: dripping into each other constantly back and forth in circles, keeping the coffee constantly on the move, constantly fresh. If you make one change, if you break one of the pots, all the coffee eventually will be contaminated. One disturbance has a million downstream effects: the rise in CO2 was now filtering through the coffee machines of the planet, destabilising 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 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 surface. When John wrote “The Veil ” he never meant to be a prophet. But he was increasingly feeling as if the planet had been reading his book and was following it page by page, word for word…
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