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The fate of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody, and Life (a COP15 story)

"Everybody agreed, expecting Somebody to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody ended up doing it."

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An alien anthropologist, having studied the radio signals of a planet orbiting a distant star, documented the story of the planet’s fate at the hands of its most technologically advanced inhabitants.

The radio signals lasted all but one thousand of what the broadcasters of these signals would call “years”. Still, the trajectory of their fate could be discerned from just the first half of these thousand. A long time for any single one of this planet’s broadcasters, but still hardly half the blink of an eye in the greater history of this unique little spec of life drifting through space.

The story in question is about five inhabitants named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody, and Life. Their story began long before they knew how to make the radio signals that so inadvertently broadcasted their fate out in the universe.

It began when Somebody became convinced that everything in the world was their absolute dominion, and they began fuelling the fire of their unquenchable desire with wood expropriated from Life’s tree. This particular tree ensured the whole planet’s stability and health, and didn’t belong to Life, but rather Life belonged to it through providing generously for the needs of Anybody and Everybody by caring for the tree.

Soon enough, Everybody caught on to Somebody’s idea, and a big problem arose that Nobody initially noticed. Everybody was beginning to burn more wood from Life’s tree than the tree was able to replenish. Life, vastly the wiser of the five, let Everybody carry on but with diminishing provision for their actual needs, knowing the whole time what they would have to learn the hard way;

… that if this world were to continue being favourably habitable, Everybody would have to live in a very different way. A confident prediction because if Everybody continued living the way they did, the planet would clearly become uninhabitable. And likewise, Everybody would certainly need to change the way they think, because if they continued thinking the same way, then they would certainly continue living the same way…

At first, Everybody denied that the tree was being destroyed, but eventually it was irrefutable. In response, Everybody claimed that their desires were in fact real needs, and the destruction a necessary evil. Thus eventually, the exploitation of Life’s tree for the sake of Everybody’s exaggerated needs began causing the planet to suffer so badly that its fate began looking very dire.

It quickly became urgent to repair and, if possible, reverse the ongoing damages. Everybody agreed, expecting Somebody to do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody ended up doing it. This was because Nobody cared enough to see it was happening in the first place. Thus Nobody was able to figure out why Everybody continued wreaking the damage, and what Life knew all along must be learned the hard way.

Somebody, feeling morally righteous, got angry about Nobody rescuing Life’s tree because it was clearly Everybody’s job, having caused the whole problem in the first place. Everybody deflected, making it clear that Anybody could have taken responsibility. After all, Nobody was comfortable about addressing the problem with Anybody from the very start.

Thus, concluded the alien anthropologist, the fate of Life’s tree and all it upheld on this distant, frail, pale blue dot was ultimately sealed when Nobody changed what Anybody’s thinking and lifestyle could have accommodated, while Everybody was busy expecting Somebody to fix it for all of them.

Nils Harley Boisen, Conservationist, Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima)



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