Instead of listing "things to do for Earth Day" or "ways to live a little greener", I decided to write a poem on the future of the planet, using the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle. In a time of widening polarization in politics and shortsighted initiatives, I felt it necessary to highlight the need for more cross-sector and cross-party collaboration in solving environmental issues like climate change, pollution, and resource depletion. This poem emphasizes the connectivity of social and environmental issues. It will not tell you what to do or what is right, but make you re-evaluate and question.
We're solving a puzzle of colossal scale.
The pieces are scattered across the seas, the forests, the mountains, the ice caps, the ecosystems
There's no picture to guide us to where the pieces should go,
And perhaps there shouldn't be one.
Our first instinct is to procrastinate as anyone would.
Many of us will not even bother trying to solve this puzzle or even care to glance at it
You want your luxury, your blinded indefinite growth, your exotic foods and fashion, your convenience,
And you will take it at any cost as long as it is the cheapest out there
The pieces are shifting as you are chatting and laughing
The tides are rising as you are driving, flying and relaxing
Children and families are suffering from hunger and exhaustion while you are shopping
Species are vanishing from the seas, the forests, and the prairies as you are eating your dish of delicacies.
Yet the coral reefs are our barricades against storms and protein factories for over a billion people
Yet the wetlands protect us against floods and soil erosion
Yet the forests are our air and water purifiers
Yet the streams, the lakes, and the rivers provide water to our homes while aiding the water and nutrient cycles that all terrestrial life depends on
We need a healthy and biologically diverse biosphere to stay alive.
In connecting the pieces, some solutions seem all too obvious,
But be careful with the seemingly obvious as they are not suitable everywhere.
Piecing together the frame of this puzzle will require bipartisan collaboration to create incentives and policies that are bold yet realistic and morally just.
Arranging the remaining components will involve embracing diverse culture and interests
And creating a diverse yet interconnected network of solutions,
As there is no single set of answers to the complex problems of climate change, pollution, resource over-exploitation, or habitat loss.
Each arrangement of choices will predict a different future.
The right ones will make it brighter.