Things I Read: Welcome to the Anthropocene


Welcome to the Anthropocene

The late, great Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles is a novel set entirely on Mars, but the allegory points directly back to Earth. In a brief sketch called “The Green Morning,” a Martian settler arrives only to be told by a doctor that the planet’s notoriously thin air may force him to return to Earth. Disappointment and his pained lungs nearly shatter this man. But instead of leaving, he has a vision: “He looked down at his hands and turned them over. He would plant trees and grass. That would be his job, to fight against the very thing that might prevent his staying here.” And so the man, on a single motorcycle, becomes the alien planet’s Johnny Appleseed. The trees come, another sign of Bradbury's legendary optimism. Some sixty years after this story was written, there is no question the air is ours on this planet, as is the fate of the trees.