Through the Lens of a Single Molecule
2021, Senior, Creative Writing
It is a common misconception that every water molecule moves along with the waves, while in actuality we remain in the same place, simply moving up and down, while only the movement of the wave propagates, similar to the way an action potential travels down its axon. Even so, we continue to rise, growing further up the shores. It’s 2021, but in the next 30 years we will continue to rise nearly a foot higher up the shores of Cape Cod. As the glaciers melt, their molecules will join us in the rise, and as we grow warmer, we speed up, our volume growing historically larger. I am overheating, and moving faster because of it.
My fellow molecules and I used to bump playfully against each other, but as our speed grows faster, our collisions become more violent. I bounce from one to the other, driving the space between us ever larger as our composite volume increases and we climb up ever higher. We climb higher, ominously inching up the shoreline. It is not immediately noticeable, but it will be, and the people will wish that they had acted early, more urgently.
We abrase the shore as our energy moves within the waves, eroding the shoreline, shrinking the land above. Of course it is perfectly natural for one substance to erode when another scrapes away at it, but such a change should not be so significant that it is visible within a single lifetime. We are not to blame however. I feel out of control. I am out of control. For so long, I remained in a consistent cycle: I rose and fell, I evaporated and precipitated, I was a product of combustion, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration. But as carbon emissions rose, we rose right along with them. My cycle has been interrupted; my routine violated. My organic way of life has become unnatural as carbon emissions refuse to slow down. Carbon is not to blame, however, for they can only control their release and intake to a certain extent. Quite a limited extent. The people seem unable to stop digging up their fossil fuels, burning them to an eventual extinction, all
while polluting the atmosphere with their leftovers. It is clear that man is predominantly at fault, and so in this way I can relate to those poor carbon atoms.
All of these people with their silly little cars, trains, and planes, passionately refusing to carry themselves anywhere as every other living organism does. They were built to outrun prey, constructed essentially to run marathons, given a certain form to migrate by bringing themselves to their destination. But their origins remain seemingly irrelevant, just as our origins in our steadfast water cycle remain violated. They have even developed the technology to transport themselves using the same sunlight used to power our very water cycle, but have neglected the opportunity to take advantage of such technology, instead using it for profit.
Therefore I am swept up into hurricanes, far more often than I should be. I already felt at risk when I was subjected to being part of the seawater, as there was a slight chance of being evaporated, condensing into clouds amidst strong winds and spiraling thunderstorms. But as they are more frequent, the probability grows higher. They’re violent, dangerous, destructive forces that not only throw me around, but destroy homes, businesses, and lives themselves. They are seemingly uncontrollable, violating water molecules and living, breathing organisms alike.
I am fearful for the future. Let us fast forward to a potential future, perhaps 2100, where the water will rise even higher, even if the lowest carbon emissions possible are implemented immediately. Will I bring houses down under myself and the others? Will they finally look up and notice that it takes them a few less steps to reach us at the ocean? A place that should foster feelings of appreciation for such a world will grow to stimulate fear instead. Will learning to swim be their only feasible option in the coming years? I fear that it will only become apparent that they have the whole world at their fingertips once the ocean is at their door.
My creative process was inspired by the idea of writing from an unfamiliar perspective: a water molecule. This allowed for me to focus more on the biological processes, not just the writing itself. This was important as an IB Biology student, as we spend significant time studying the water and carbon cycles and human's effect on climate change. It is already incredibly frustrating knowing the implications of increased carbon emissions and climate change on the future, but looking at a fictional, alternative perspective enables me to communicate a new feeling of frustration. Although we are past the point of prevention, immediate action must be taken for minimal damage to ensue.