Was that a hallucination? Too much synthetic coffee again.
Flicking my eye over to the left, I quickly check a stream of health reports about my morning beverage. I heard somewhere coffee beans were once abundant. Plentiful mountains piled high, harvested by even the poorest people in society.
But that must have been decades ago. Long before GoogleChips were implanted into our brains at birth, or we needed to adjust our oxygen levels before heading out. I've heard the adjustments will soon be automatic, which will be revolutionary for our lungs. Nobody has time for manual.
Today, coffee beans are rare. Like a strange legend, more valuable than gold. That bittersweet bite is reserved for only the very wealthiest. Anything grown from the ground is. The world survives on synthetic, designed exactly for our tastes. Even if it is bringing out strange symptoms in our body.
Hmm...coffee, coffee... nutrient deficiency, inflammation, intestinal permeability, blah, blah, blaaah ... no nothing about hallucinations. Weird. What was that thing? Whatever. Time to return to my office pod.
... But somehow, even as I settle in, I can't shake off the image. Lingering in my brain, a ghost. Like the blotched fragments of a dream after a long sleep. Or the scratch and cold press of lithium as we charge our data chips each night. That lingering metal taste and electric buzz.
What WAS it? It was small. About four centimetres. Bright blue like the glow of a LED light. With heart-shaped wings spreading flat across the cold Perspex of the window. The vibrant inky complexion contrasted against the hazy apricot of the sky.
1,086, 234, 971 results.
Oh - my chip found it. God I love how it recognises images. Ok... Let's see ... Scrolling through the thumbnails with my left eye, I find the exact match.
Name: Mararine Blue Butterfly
Latin: Cyaniris semiargus
Extinction period: 1970 - 2020
Huh. So, once it was a real thing. A real animal. Like a dog or cat ... but living without humans. Living outside. Somehow. Breathing without a machine. Somehow. Butterfly. But-ter-fly. Funny name.
Zipping through results, I can see there were more. Every colour of the rainbow - whatever that means. That expression carried through time but it no longer makes sense. Our sky knows only charcoal grey and cinnamon colours. As the rains pour and fires dampen, the skies bubble up into a dark granite-coloured haze. When the downpours relent, and the flames grow, our atmosphere glows orange throughout the night.
Apparently it started in 2020, when the heavens above New Zealand transformed into hellfire ombre, after the vast Australian bush fires became uncontrollable. Heavy smoked-filled clouds covered the earth, metre by metre until the blue sky became just a memory. And natural plants and food? No chance. It's a technological miracle that so many humans survived. Not that life is much worth living.
Now it's normal for every place on earth to be devoid of greens and blues. We live in a spectrum of orange and grey. Our grandparents saw an entirely different colour when they looked upwards. They breathed in a sweeter air, not the lab-created chemicals we carry around in little packs.
How strange to think that the skies were once blue. And small bright creatures fluttered across the planet like tiny dreams. How ironic that our ancestors closed their eyes and sleepwalked away from such a beautiful world.
This is a grim story...
Sadly, it's too late to save the Mararine Blue which is now extinct in the UK, alongside four other species of butterfly. Three quarters of British butterfly are now in serious decline following extreme threats to biodiversity and the rising climate. They are important, and without them, entire ecosystems break down. As delicate creatures, they are the first to go. It is a warning of what's ahead if we don't put significant money into protecting our environment. We need regulations. We financial incentives. We need taxes on destroying the environment.
Wildlife populations have declined by 60% since 1970, and now the effects are compounding. It's estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services that 1 million species will soon be extinct.
According to the latest UN environment report, investments in nature-based solutions urgently need to triple by 2030. And increase four-fold by 2050.
If not, we will fall into a world without wildlife, nature, safe places to live or predictable weather. Basically, if you would rather not be flooded or forest-fired out of your home, you need to care about nature. If you want food which comes from the ground, you have to make a stand.
...But we can have a different ending!
The easiest and most effective way for ordinary people like us to help save the planet is to switch our pensions. It takes maybe 40 minutes, but it will be the most impactful thing you can do, not just for your future but your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
If you'd like to read about why we so badly need nature-based investments, this is a great resource! 👇