Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm a Joss Whedon fan (freak, fiend, fetishizer...well, not quite). My morning ritual involves drinking coffee and catching up on Dollhouse via Hulu. But I caught up and then they ran a silly two-hour Prison Break episode and there was no Dollhouse for me to watch!
To soothe my irritation I decided to watch Firefly again, a brilliant show that led to the film Serenity but sadly Fox cancelled after only one season.
The introduction to Firefly begins with this voice over:
"After the Earth was used up we sought out new planets."
Throughout the series there are sporadic references to "Earth that was."
On Earth Day 2009 I was chilled to the bone by the phrase "after the Earth was used up." The words hit home because I'm working on a YA dystopia that involves ecological catastrophe. To research this novel I turned to two thought-provoking works about the possibilites and problems of human interaction with our home planet. Alan Weisman's World Without Us and Edward O. Wilson's The Future of Life both provocative and enlightening books that I'd highly recommend.
One of the most influential short stories I read as a child involved a couple going to sleep the last day the Earth would survive before being burned up by the sun. They were among the few humans who'd opted to remain on Earth (and knowingly die) rather than board the colonizing ships that departed the planet in search of new homes. (Does anyone know who wrote this story? I swear it was in one of my textbooks for middle school 'Reading' but I can't for the life of me remember the author).
I still get shivers when I think of that story. As much as I love to speculate about other worlds, space, and the future I am deeply tied to this one. I imagined that I would be one of those who stayed behind to die with the Earth (space ships give me terrible claustrophia - in theory. I've never actually been on one, but I totally freaked out on the Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disney World when I was eleven).
I hope that we can demonstrate wisdom enough so that our Earth isn't ever "used up" and that "Earth that was" results from natural phenomena and not the errors of our poor species.