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Today is World Environment Day – Last night I had the strangest dream

I know this is going to sound crazy but we had a storm last night and I went outside afterwards to straighten out the chairs on my patio. It was completely still except for this odd whirring sound. At first I thought it was that darn tinnitus in my ears again. But then right next to my Siberian irises was this crazy amorphous blob of light. Before I could scream, a kind of tickertape emerged with printed words—in English. “Tomorrow is World Environment Day. Your environment is not in good shape.”

Okay, I must have been asleep. Except I don’t think I was. The sheet of paper just kept unrolling in front of me. “Who are you?” I shouted, backing up a bit.

I am from a planet beyond your solar system.”

“What, like Alderaan?”

Never heard of it.”

“How’d you get here? Where’s your rocket ship?”

The paper kept coming. “Who needs a rocket ship? We just dematerialize and travel as flecks of light. But our world has intelligent life.”

“So, what’s the point of this visit if you’re so advanced?”

We study the universe trying to find examples of ways to be better. From the distance your planet looks so beautiful we thought it might be the ultimate. But now that I’ve gotten closer, you’ve got big problems.”

“Go on.”

For starters, you humans seem to struggle with focus. You jump from one problem to another and you forget about the big picture.”

“Well we have big problems. Did you pick up the issue of this virus, Covid-19? It’s killing a lot of people.”

Yes, that is a problem. And I can see that even though you all look alike to us, you seem to draw amazing distinctions between who’s the most valued. But your planet has even bigger problems. Your atmosphere’s a mess. You sure do know how to spew out carbon dioxide. Don’t you know that gas is warming up the whole globe? While you’re busy taking pot shots at each other, your hurricane season is revving up. Before you know it, you’ll have floods and tornadoes, and heat waves. You’ll have droughts, and people will be starving. What are you going to do about it? It’s not like you know how to dematerialize and come to our world.”

“It hasn’t taken you long to size us up. Since you seem to know so much, do you have any solutions for us?

The paper stopped rolling for a minute, and then it started again.

For starters, you people need to work together. You need to spend less time fighting and more time innovating to save your environment. You’ve got a fine star called the sun. It has quite a few years of energy left in it. Figure out how to harness that energy so you aren’t suffocating yourselves. You’ve figured out a lot about the building blocks of life. Make them work for you—to fight disease, grow healthier more nutritious crops without killing as much as you cure. You people aren’t dumb, you just can’t see past your noses.”

“So, what’s it like where you live? You all get along?” I asked, but there was no answer. That sizzle of light was gone and so was the roll of paper.

I went back to bed. When I got up this morning, I raced out back. There were no traces of my night-time encounter. I opened the paper and saw the number of dead from Covid-19 listed alongside an article about last night’s demonstrations. There was nothing about marking today as World Environment Day…

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