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  • Writer's pictureGlen Merzer


What would happen if the Creator came back to visit Earth and had five minutes to figure out what we’re doing wrong? Let’s say She met with a UN bureaucrat who could fill Her in on what’s happening on the Earth. Here’s how that dialogue might go.

CREATOR: It’s been 50,000 years since I checked in on this planet. I was always very proud of the beautiful blue-green Earth and also very proud of you human beings. Way back in the beginning, you were already developing big brains and I predicted great things from you. But I understand there’s been a problem and you’ve been overheating the Earth with greenhouse gases?

UN GUY: Yeah, we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year. We’re approaching unsustainable levels. We have more deadly storms and fires and heat. Pretty soon we won’t be able to breathe.

CREATOR: I remember that I created six trillion trees that drink carbon dioxide, so what seems to be the problem?

UN GUY: Well, we don’t have six trillion trees anymore; we have just three trillion.

CREATOR: You mean to say that you misplaced three trillion trees? How did you do that? Is that because of this coal industry that I have heard about?

UN GUY: Actually the coal industry hasn’t cost us that many trees. Sometimes we dig up a mountain. It doesn’t look very nice and we lose some trees which usually come back. So our tree loss is not because of the coal industry.

CREATOR: Well, is it because of the oil industry? Is that’s what causing all that tree loss?

UN GUY: No, the oil industry doesn’t cost us that many trees. Sometimes we have oil spills. We had a terrible spill in the Gulf of Mexico about twelve years ago with many millions of barrels of oil pouring into the water.

CREATOR: It comes out in barrels?

UN GUY: No, but that’s how we like to think of it.

CREATOR: Well, that must’ve been very bad for the fish.

UN GUY: No, actually, it was a net positive for the fish. When we had the big oil spill, a lot of the fish came back.

CREATOR: That’s odd. I remember that when I created fish, they didn’t drink oil. Why did you wind up with more fish when you spilled oil into the gulf?

UN GUY: You see, when the oil spill happened, we humans stopped fishing, so that brought back the fish. The fish may not like oil, it’s got a nasty taste, but they like oil a lot better than they like us.

CREATOR: Wait a minute. Hold on here! I remember that I created you to live in the forests. I created you as land animals—cousins to the apes—to the chimps and gorillas. Do chimps and gorillas eat fish?

UN GUY: No, of course not.

CREATOR: So why do you people eat fish?

UN GUY: Well, it’s part of our culture.

CREATOR: Culture? I don’t remember creating culture.

UN GUY: You didn’t. We did.

CREATOR: What’s the purpose of culture?

UN GUY: The purpose of culture is that when we do things that are wrong, we can still be proud of them.

CREATOR: What kind of things do people do because of culture that you’re so proud of?

UN GUY: Oh, cultures have given us art and music and dance as well as, you know, some other stuff on the violent side like slavery, racism, bullfighting, fishing, and raising animals to kill them. But have you have ever seen Irish step dancing? It’s terrific!

CREATOR: So, because of the culture, you’ve been eating fish? What has this done to the oceans?

UN GUY: Oh, we’re destroying all the oceans because we eat fish.

CREATOR: All the oceans? That’s about 70% of the earth!

UN GUY: Give or take. They’re getting bigger now because of global warming.

CREATOR: How much of your food do you get from fish?

UN GUY: About 3% of our food.

CREATOR: So, you’re destroying all of the oceans to get just 3% of your food? How many fish do you kill every year?

UN GUY: Oh, trillions of them. We kill a lot more than we can eat, because that’s how nets work. The nets also kill dolphins and whales, which aren’t technically fish. And we kill and eat lobsters and crabs, which also aren’t fish. Anything in the ocean is fair game. We feed a lot of the fish to cows. Cows eat more fish than we do.

CREATOR: Cows? I don’t remember creating cows.

UN GUY: Right, you created oxen but we kind of fattened them up and softened them up and turned them into cows to make them taste better.

CREATOR: So how many cows do you have now? Do you have hundreds of these cows?

UN GUY: We now have 1.5 billion cows. Eating them is part of our culture.

CREATOR: 1.5 billion? So how much of the Earth’s land do cows take up?

UN GUY: We’ve turned over about 37% of the Earth’s land to the cows and then another 6% we use to grow grain to feed to the cows.

CREATOR: Wait. Let me get this straight. You’re using 43% of the Earth’s land to grow cows?

UN GUY: That’s right. They weigh about 1600 pounds each so they have to eat a lot of grass on top of the fish and the chicken manure and whatever we else we can feed them.

CREATOR: You feed chicken manure to cows?

UN GUY: We call it recycling.

CREATOR: So 43% of the beautiful land on Earth is for the cows? Is that what happened to the 3 trillion trees?

UN GUY: Right, we had to chop down the 3 trillion trees and burn all the vegetation when we gave 43% of the Earth’s land to the cows.

CREATOR: So I guess you must get most of your food from all these cows you eat and all the other animals you eat?

UN GUY: No, just 12%.

CREATOR: You’re telling me you’re destroying the planet I created in order to get only 12% of your food?

UN GUY: Plus the 3% from the fish so, to be fair, that’s 15%.

CREATOR: And you have no sense of shame?

UN GUY: I don’t like to brag, but we’ve overcome it.

CREATOR: What happened to all the other animals I created on the land: tigers, leopards, giraffes, elephants?

UN GUY: Oh, we’ve been killing them. Between 1970 and 2016 we eliminated two-thirds of the ones that were left. We’re on track to wipe out almost all of them within five years.

CREATOR: And you do this because of this culture thing?

UN GUY: Yes, we do this because, you know, our cultures revolve around eating animals. And hunting some that we don’t even eat.

CREATOR: Have you considered getting rid of culture?

UN GUY: Can’t. The tourist industry depends on it. Every culture is a little bit different. People find that very charming. But most of them encourage us to eat cows.

CREATOR: I remember that I created you people to get hungry when you look at an apple. Do you get hungry when you look at a cow?

UN GUY: Of course not! Nobody gets hungry when they look at a cow!

CREATOR: Isn’t that a clue?

UN GUY: Respectfully, you didn’t create us to be a subtle species.

CREATOR: It’s a little astonishing that you would turn over 43% of the land just to grow these cows that you eat.

UN GUY: We don’t only eat them. We also drink their milk.

CREATOR: You’ve got to be kidding me? Baby humans drink the milk of cows?

UN GUY: Not just the babies. Adults, too.

CREATOR: You’re pulling my leg?

UN GUY: I’m dead serious.

CREATOR: You’re saying that fully grown humans--?

UN GUY: Yes. Drink milk. And we turn it into all kinds of delicious cheeses.

CREATOR: But doesn’t it make you people fat and sick to eat 1600-pound animals and drink their lactation?

UN GUY: You don’t know the half of it. We spend all the money we make on doctors, and we fight about who should pay for it. There are some very big industries making a boatload of money off our diseases.

CREATOR: So why on God’s earth do you keep doing this?

UN GUY: I told you already.

CREATOR: Culture.

UN GUY: Right.

CREATOR: I was under the impression that, when I created Evolution, that you were evolving really big brains.

UN GUY: Yeah. Big enough to create culture. Not quite big enough to figure out what’s wrong with it. So we’re kind of stuck in-between.

CREATOR: And now the earth’s atmosphere is overheating.

UN GUY: Yup.

CREATOR: And you tell each other that it’s because of burning fossil fuels instead of the larger truth that it’s because of what you’ve done to the oceans and to the land?

UN GUY: Yup. Because the fossil fuel industry isn’t—

CREATOR: Part of your culture.

UN GUY: Right. Nobody really celebrates gas stations. But food—

CREATOR: That’s part of your culture.

UN GUY: Right. Can’t question that.

CREATOR: Can’t culture change? Do you still have slavery, racism, bullfighting? Surely you’ve gotten rid of those things?

UN GUY: Uh, actually, no. But we are working very hard to eradicate those things. We know they are wrong. I promise you that they will end, and soon.

CREATOR: Then promise me that you will end the culture of people eating animals and drinking their milk. I created you humans to protect the animals, not eat them. You need to change it, quick.

UN GUY: Change is hard for us. It takes us time.

CREATOR: You don’t have much time because you are destroying the Earth, remember?

UN GUY: Yeah, that’s the problem.

CREATOR: Yes, I think I see your problem.

UN GUY: Thank you for understanding.

CREATOR: Your brains are just big enough to make you think you’re smarter than you are. Until you see the obvious and stop hiding behind culture, you won’t solve the problem. Listen to me now: the Earth is dying fast and I’ve got other worlds to check in on. I’ll be back in five years, and I expect to see that you’ve returned the Earth to the animals and the trees, and that you’re eating plants just like your cousins, who are smarter than you think and would never dream of eating cows. I’m glad that the apes, at least, are not fools. I’ll be back in a few years. Don’t disappoint me again.


So, I think that the Creator, in five minutes, could figure it out. That the burning of

fossil fuels is a small part of the problem. The larger part is what we’ve done to the

Earth. We’ve destroyed the oceans because we eat fish; we’ve destroyed the land

and decimated the forests because we eat cows, which are not our food. Until we

see the obvious and stop hiding behind culture, we won’t solve the problem.


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