Reverse the Doomsday
According to World Health Organization’s estimation, air pollution causes 7 million people to lose their lives every year, which is even more than the total number of deaths due to the covid-19 pandemic (Duong & Oni, 2022). In addition to harmful air pollutants, air pollution also contains greenhouse gases that cause climate change, among which carbon dioxide is the main component of greenhouse gases. Therefore, air quality is compactly related to climate change. The air quality will affect climate change, and conversely, climate change will also affect air quality (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2022). Due to climate change, the Earth will experience more extreme weather, which will exacerbate the worsening air quality. Air pollution is a threat to global health, yet the harm of this silent killer has gone unnoticed.
The reason why I chose air pollution as the theme of this story is that I realised that although many people know the existence of air pollution, they do not care and will not make behavioural changes to reduce it. Therefore, this story will depict the doomsday scene to remind people of the serious harm air pollution does to the human body and the climate. Meanwhile, the actions of the protagonist in the story encourage the audience to participate in sustainable development, especially to stimulate people to live a low-carbon lifestyle. Moreover, this podcast will serve as a trailer for this story.
[March 14, 2098]
The world outside the window was shrouded in fog, while the sky was drizzling.
I turned on the stereo and played a piano song called “stepping on the rainy street”. Then I leaned over the window and looked out into the dilapidated street. There were no people or cars coming and going on the street. It was clear that no one wanted to walk in the rain. I guessed it was because the rain at this moment was extremely corrosive that even full protection could not guarantee safety. Obviously, this light piano music was no longer applicable to the present world. Nowadays, once people knew it is going to rain, they would return home immediately. How can anyone be in the mood to enjoy acid rain?
I laughed at myself and turned off the music.
The earth, this beautiful and vibrant blue planet was just like our mother, who has been silently giving and sacrificing itself. It allowed humans to wantonly demand and destroy. Whether cutting down trees or discharging waste gas into the air, it always endured. Until it discovered that human desires can never be satisfied. One industrial revolution after another made the human race more powerful, and at the same time, the emissions of air pollution kept increasing. First, we burned coal, then we burned oil, natural gas, and any other polluting fuel. Finally, the earth could no longer deal with the pollution caused by human progress anymore.
The planet was trying to warn people. It was not hard to find these warnings from nature when I investigated history. First, global warming; second, reduced visibility due to smog; finally, large-scale plants wilted, and animals died. People miss every opportunity to change. Until now, the earth had lost its original blue and vitality because of air pollution, and human beings could only bear the disaster caused by ourselves.
I stopped thinking. “What is the use of these belated disenchantments,” I said to myself.
“Time for some water, Elpis”. At this moment, my mother’s voice appeared, but I did not respond to her. Seeing that I did not respond, my “mother” came to my room and put a glass of water on the table. “It’s half past ten in the morning. Drink your second glass of water,” said “Mom”. I looked up and replied, “Got it. Don’t worry about me.”
What caught my eye was a robot that looked very concerned. My real mother died of lung cancer shortly after I was born. I raised the glass and gulped down the water. “Mom, this time, I can save you and this planet.”
I went to my mother’s laboratory, inputted a string of code into a machine, and quietly waited for the machine to start running. This morning, the computer finally worked out the key code to make the time machine work.
The sound of the machine operating reminded me of the video that accompanied me to sleep every day. In the video, my mother hugged me tightly and said, “Elpis, I’m sorry I could not grow up with you. I’m even sorry that I brought you into this world that is slowly dying. But you are the only hope to stop the world from getting worse. Mommy could not live long enough to figure out the crucial code to run the time machine, but you still have a chance. Live a good life, with mom’s share of the effort to live. Mommy loves you forever.”
Tears welled up in my eyes. “Mom, I used to hate you for letting me go through this alone. The robot with your voice, the videotape of how you want me to save the world and this time machine that you created… All these things remind me all the time about my destiny, “I sobbed and said to myself, “Do you know how much I want to see you with my own eyes, see the world without haze, and breathe the fresh air? How I wish I could run freely on the green grass like the children in the documentary. But, do you know what I am facing? It is the thick fog sky that is almost indistinguishable from the day and night, the peers around me who died one by one because of air pollution, and my body that is gradually eroded by pollution. More The terrible thing is that I am about to lose hope”.
I wiped away my tears and continued, “Now, all these things can be changed. As long as I go back in time, I will bring back you, my friends, flowers and trees, and the blue of this planet!”, I put my palm over the start button of the time machine and said, “Wait for me”.
As I resolutely pressed the start button, the roar of the machine rang in my ears, and a blinding light swallowed me in. Time is going backwards at the speed of light, and countless scenes flash past me. The sky began to turn blue, the lake became clear, and plants grew under the nourishment of the sun.
I made it. I went back in time!
[March 14, 2075]
I looked around and realised this was where Mom lived before the doomsday. At the moment, mom did not notice that the house had to be air-conditioned for a long time to maintain a constant temperature of 26 degrees, which produced a large amount of greenhouse gas. I walked to my mother’s room and vaguely heard her talking on the phone. She seemed to be preparing for a road trip with her friends.
It took a struggle to hold back my tears and calm my excitement. I could finally see my mom!
I knocked at her door. “Come in, please!”, said Mom. Then I opened her door, and when she saw me, she looked surprised. “Who are you? Why are you at my house?”, she hung up and looked at me defensively.
“Well, you don’t know me at this time. I’m Elpis, your future daughter…” She cut me off before I could finish my sentence. “What? My daughter? I have to say, this joke is really out of date. Who told you to prank me? Where’s your camera?” My mother got up and walked over to me. She started looking for the camera that didn’t exist.
‘I don’t have much time here! Please do hear me out!” ‘I said anxiously. The time machine has set a limited time to prevent me from staying in the past forever. Therefore, the clock’s ticking now means it has been counting down. “The doomsday is only 10 years away. You must start to participate in protecting the environment, first moving out of the house. Also, it’s not enough for you, an organisation, or a policy to protect the environment. You need to get everyone involved in low-carbon and sustainable living”. The clock ticked faster and faster. Before I could finish my speech, the blinding light brought me into the time tunnel again.
When I disappeared, my mom was unfazed and continued to call her friend. She didn’t move out of the house and even joined the road trip. Scenes’ flashed past my eyes, and the sky darkened again.
[March 14, 2098]
I fell to the ground coughing uncontrollably, and a few drops of blood followed.
“No…”, I shivered to support the wall before barely standing up.
The smog outside was worse than before I left. Meanwhile, the wind whipped through the city on the verge of collapse. Anything that had damaged the environment in the past would make the world worse in the future.
“I must go back again”. I staggered to the time machine and pressed the start button with all my strength after prolonging the time I could stay in the past.
[March 14, 2075]
“Hey, it’s you again. How did you just disappear? Can you show me one more time…”, mom held up her phone to record. I interrupted her, clasped her shoulders, so she looked me in the eye, and said, “Mom, do you know why you call me Elpis? Because you knew you weren’t going to make it to save the planet. So, you wish, I can be your hope, and the hope of the whole world “, my eyes burst into tears.
She watched me quietly and listened to what I said. “My body won’t allow me to time travel for the third time, and I can feel my body deteriorating now. Mom, moving out of this house a year earlier or not going on that road trip would have made the future world much easier. It’s not just you. Any small act of protecting the environment can lighten the burden on the planet. People always feel that such a great act of protecting the environment is far away from them, so they don’t do it. But it’s not enough for great people to protect the planet. This is the home of every one of us! So all of us need to take responsibility!”, I coughed violently again.
I didn’t want my mother to see me in pain, so I covered my mouth tightly, but the blood still ran out of my fingers. “Elpis! “My mother rushed up and hugged me.
“Mom, I can’t stop thinking about being held like this by you again. Now, I’m satisfied”, I smiled and looked at her face, longing to have her image imprinted in my mind forever.
The blinding light took me left just as promised. Before I passed out, I saw my mother holding me tight and not letting me disappear.
[March 14, 2098]
Birds chirped outside the window, and the breeze brushed my face with the smell of grass.
I woke up with a start. “Why does it smell like grass?”. I got up quickly and ran to the window to look. The outside world was full of green I had never seen before. The sun gently sprinkled on the lake, reflecting soft iris lights.
“We did it… Doomsday has been reversed”, I muttered to myself. It took me a while to catch my breath, and I ran excitedly out onto the grass.
“Elpis!”, suddenly my mother’s voice came from behind me. I immediately looked back. It’s really her.
I ran desperately towards her and fell into her arms.
“This time, you don’t have to miss my hug”.
Duong, D., & Oni, T. (2022). Air pollution is killing millions — it’s time to hold ourselves accountable for the harm it causes. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/05/air-pollution-killing-millions-how-can-we-tackle/
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2022). Air Quality and Climate Change Research. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/air-research/air-quality-and-climate-change-research#:~:text=Emissions%20of%20pollutants%20into%20the,cooling%20effects%20on%20the%20climate.