Amongst the oldest Christian stories is the tale of the Garden of Eden. The garden’s beauty and majesty are perfect, it is a blessed place of peace, of endless bounty, of unsullied wonder. It provides endless bounty, the inhabitants want for nothing. It is earth recast as paradise, a dream of the world before humanity has made its mark. It cannot last of course, such is the nature of parable. There is a demon slithering along the ground, paradise is lost.
I was in a car on the motorway when the blood rain came. It was caused by pollution and freak winds carrying sand from the unimaginable vastness of the Sahara, it coated the windscreen in grimy filth as the wipers spread it about. The air pollution was so great that, despite the cloudless sky and the flat plain, you could see no further than a mile.
The road was busy that day. The traffic flowed well but there was a great deal of it. There were lorries transporting goods across the country, there were smart cars, there were estates, there were coaches. The lorry in front of us spewed out a slipstream behind it, brown and revolting.
I began to think about my role in the world. I like to think that I do very little ecological damage. I do not drive, I use public transport where possible, I am careful to recycle, and none of it is good enough.
We have known for some time that the world is changing. The hole in the ozone layer is closing but still the planet warms. The polar ice caps have shrunk to a tiny fraction of their previous might. Floods regularly sweep over the part of England in which I live. Deserts grow, forests are destroyed, the flow of weather becomes frightening and chaotic. I give us far less than a thousand years.
A blood rain falls, it is far too late. Perhaps, in a few generations, we will be eking out our miserable existence in the ruins of the old world. Perhaps the wars we shall fight for food and fuel will shatter us before Gaia takes her revenge. Perhaps our descendants will marvel at the toppled skyscrapers and the shattered tarmac of our decadence. They will have lost so much, they will have stories about the wonders of the past, they will form strange new religions and philosophies to cope with their fallen state. Perhaps the blood rain will fall on them too.
I have not done enough. When the dark, Satanic mills first sprung up and belched their black smoke into the sky we could argue that we did not know. We could say, with honesty, that we did not understand we were choking our only planet. We have known for so long now, and we have not done nearly enough. I did not give up travelling in petrol powered cars. I did not revert to candle light to read when night fell. Did you? Did you swear not to have children and to treat electricity as a precious and rare commodity? Did you give up eating beef? Did you walk everywhere, throw out your mobile telephone and your tumble dryer? Nobody did all of these things. Nobody did enough. We should have. We knew.
We are all guilty, even the most virtuous among us do not truly understand the horror to come. We have allowed the liars who profit from our demise to tell us all is well. A feckless few have bought their lies and repeated them. A polluted blood rain came when I was in a car. In a car. I am guilty. We are all guilty. We have murdered mother earth. We are all the demon in the garden.