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Before joining me in this blog post, please click on the link below to read Chapter 3 of Tales by Moons-Light: Stories from Before the Great Melt. It’s a fairy tale from Urth, presented in a “flip book” format, about a boy named Nim who lived on Urth a long time ago. Nim must save his village, Curimicu, from sure disaster. But if he finds the courage to speak up, will anyone listen?

The Poison Well

The Commons

In the story, The Commons is a patch of rich pasture with a little well in the middle. Do we have commons on Earth?

We certainly do, and we’re facing a similar crisis as the people of Curimicu. Our Commons includes (among other things):

The air we breathe
The world’s plants and animals
The ecosystems that support life
Fresh water in lakes and streams

The human population has exploded in the past 200 years. We now inhabit almost every niche of planet Earth, and we’re all pulling from the same limited resources. But unlike the sad situation in Curimicu, which was limited to a single village, our crisis is much worse because it’s on a global scale. If we act like the people of Curimicu, focusing on our immediate needs and wants with no eye to the future, we’ll end up destroying the only planet we have.

Here’s a video from the American Museum of Natural History that shows the trend in human population growth over time. Be sure to watch it to the very end, because that’s when the huge explosion happens. It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. That’s a scary statistic and one we must take very seriously.

Human Population through Time

The Great Melt

If you’ve read Mateo and the Gift of Presence, you know that Urth is a watery planet 64,000 light years away, on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy. You also know that Urth lost its continents many centuries ago, in a catastrophic event called the great melt.

In the great melt, Urth’s polar ice caps and glaciers disappeared very quickly, in a matter of 40-50 years. As a result, sea levels rose across the planet and all but the very tallest of mountains still peeked above the waves, as a series of scattered islands, much like The Marshall Islands here on Earth.

What caused the great melt? Urth people aren’t quite sure. They seldom discuss it because it happened so long ago and most written records of the event were lost in the catastrophe. But I suspect that Urth people exploited fossil fuels, dumping greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere that heated up the planet. Most likely, they also relied on animal agriculture, which is causing much of the global warming on planet Earth today. Did you know that?

What’s the message of The Poison Well?

The Commons are limited. If we continue to use them up at the rate we’re going, they will disappear.

If The Commons disappear, we will too. Why? Because our version of The Poison Well is happening on a global scale. Unlike Nim and Feng Mei, we can’t flee to save ourselves.  Unless we collectively change our behavior, or come up with novel solutions to preserve The Commons, we’re doomed to the same kind of fate as the people of Curimicu. We’ll end up turning against each other as resources dry up, and Earth’s version of the toxic picnic frogs will take over.  The Poison Well: A Fairy Tale from Urth - frog