As I write I breathe the nearby forest and its creatures. Except they are no longer trees, or animals, or fungus.
If you take a breath now, you will inhale about fifteen atoms of argon that you exhaled in a breath a year ago. Atoms from that earlier breath will have spread out from you, eventually drifting all around the world and back to you. You reconnect with yourself. You also connect with everyone else, and everything else, that exhaled a year ago. So said Harlow Shapley, an astronomer with the soul of a poet who thought deeply about his home planet.
There was no big revelation, just a train of thought. Nearly a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef is dead, and there has been no discernible political response. Global temperature is rising off the chart, only glancingly noted in the torrent of chatter. The decades-long trend of ever-more perverse and destructive politics continues. Societies are fragmenting.
For perhaps two decades I have held to the thought that while ever there was a chance of avoiding a planetary tipping point I would continue explaining how we can avoid the worst. Through that time, the path to a healthy, stable world has become clearer and more obvious, demonstrated in a thousand practical, small-scale ways. All that time the window of opportunity was closing. It is, in my judgement, barely open any more.