I have a concept that I call ‘workshops on the fly’ – moments when we can open up a conversation about sustainability, or introduce a valuable thinking skill. These do not have to occur in formal settings.

For example, a friend of mine wrote this poem on the occasion of his nephew getting a Ph.D. in Environmental Science. It tells our story in a beautifully succinct and engaging

way. Often I take the train from the Blue Mountains to Sydney (2 hours), and sometimes the people I happen to sit next to are open to a conversation. So I imagine starting a conversation about big picture trends by readingCall Me Planet to them.

Call me Planet

Dear Dr. Saunders,

Hi, my name is Planet....Planet Earth,

But you can just call me Planet

 

I heard you just graduated and are now about to go out

and do some great healing!

 

I came to this emergency ward,

because I heard you are so brilliant...and caring!

OK, so here's my story....

 

Well, let me tell you, I'm feeling a bit worn out

by all the activity of these pesky humans

 

My ocean circulatory system is inflamed

quite acidic, you know

and the flow seems to be slowing down

not good, since weather systems depend on it

as do all the oceanic life

 

And I feel like my lungs, the trees of the Amazon

are being damaged and degraded

same human disease, hacking down all my alveoli trees

 

With all this CO2 in the atmosphere produced by these humans

I am finding it very difficult to breath

I feel like I have asthma

 

Really, these pesky humans are starting to be a real irritant

I mean, at one time, the relationship of these little insect humans

crawling on my surface was symbiotic and I didn't mind it

but now, they have evolved into a real parasite,

digging into my inners like a mosquito,

extracting all my nutrients,

and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake

 

My skin is actually starting to break out

I have some kind of skin disease

where my natural skin is being covered over

by some malignant growth of pavement, buildings

industrial plants

...and did I tell you that these grotesque tumors of industrialization

are oozing pus and other terrible excretions into my bloodstream

the rivers and oceans are now filled with these strange toxins

of plastics, heavy metals and who knows what else

 

But the funny thing is that all this might be self correcting

because it seems like not only are they making me sick

like a cancer that is ravaging the body of the patient (me, Planet)

their rapid growth is going to spell their own end

 

I can already see many of these humans already getting sick

their own systems are breaking down

they may not be here much longer either

 

So Doc,

this is an emergency,

what can you do?

 

James Gien Varney-Wong