It’s early August, and even at sundown, it feels like a sauna. The residual heat leaching out of the pavement is a second noon, a reheated breath of stale air leaving a twice-dead corpse. It rained and rained hard seven hours ago but the sun blasted it all to steam in less than a lunch break. What once was a half inch of rain is now a layer of thick, moist, air that holds heat and dust. The pavement is still hot to the touch long after the sun has gone.
When humans invented the first roads it seemed like such a great idea. The path was marked, well traveled, known, and maintained. But cars turned making a journey into a commute. The idea of enjoying a drive became the fact that it can be hellish for the traveler, and even worse on the Earth.
Each added lane of asphalt is another part of the Earth we live on made uninhabitable. Nothing can live there, nothing will ever grow there again, and a busy road means death, perhaps a slow and painful death, for any and all creatures trying to cross. The interstate system divides and separates ecosystems into smaller and smaller niches. Nothing will grow or live there, nothing is allowed to cross, and an alien world is created in which no life on Earth will ever exist.
But it may very well be the postmordial breeding ground for what comes next. We have all that we need for soup, you know. We have a toxic environment where there is no competition for resources, we have an unlimited supply of organic matter being continuously resupplied, we have water, oxygen, an unrelenting sun, and tiny cracks where these ingredients can spend years getting to know one another. The crushed bodies of animals, insects, and human beings even, are being compacted into the asphalt day after day, year after year, and how long will it be before some new life form begins to replicate, and feed?
You’ll be quick to point out, if you’re educated, that this isn’t at all how it happens, that new life forms don’t just pop out of the middle of the road, unless you’re Stephen King, and then it happens about once every twelve books.
When you look at California burning and see all those trees being wiped out, you have to wonder if their function in our ecosystem is going to be replaced, and how? What if it isn’t? You look at the blue-green algae bloom in Florida, which is so thick it’s hard to get a boat through it, and you have to wonder at what point is this the new normal? At what point are we going to have a system that creates single-cell algae and not trees? What are the consequences?
We cannot destroy life on this planet, but we can modify it to the point it can survive in a world where we recklessly change the environment without regard to the consequences of those who live here.
I do not see a road to survival here.