Patient Earth

By Ella Thompson, Prizewinner of the 2022 GSD Competition

Patient Earth tackles human’s inherent tendency of appearing to make change in our lifestyles, without actually doing so. This is a serious barrier in achieving true sustainable development, which can be addressed by a real change in attitudes. In a medical-like matter ‘Patient Earth’ diagnoses the Earth with symptoms in hopes of conveying to the reader the severity of the current climate predicament and create sympathy for Mother Earth.

The patient has been suffering for a while now,

Fever. Chill. Fever. Bones breaking.

Capricious: Swiftly switching before the winds’ direction.

At times she is parched with thirst, 

But in others – she is overflowing with salty water.

Big fat tears splatter sidewalks and fill up ditches,

In a rage of red, she leaves mountains upturned in her wake.

Alone: her closest companion orbits a fixed distance away,

Leaving her alone to face fires, floods and pick from the natural gas buffet.

She tries to hold on as her thin blanket of ozone dissipates,

Try as she might, 

She cannot keep the look of disappointment off her face,

Climate change: An illness never seen before.

People. People. People and wanting more.

Generations change but the name is always worn, 

A ‘one-size fits all’ blanket that no one can escape, 

Motive mixed with an underlying self-service,

The quest for more is ancient and an illness.

People do good, to look good, to feel good.

But this is the exact opposite of ‘good’ 

Carbon-reduction is not a synonym for carbon-neutral, 

Just like buying one reusable straw is not a synonym for climate hero. 


People are starving but we throw away 17 percent of the food we could eat.

People are leaving their lights on with their 60 inch TVs.

People are earning more money while ruining the air, forest and sea,

People shouting for the future from their cars and planes,

Interim pleasures creating irreversible change,

The next generation might not even survive to blame us anyway.

Her climb to recovery is steep.

Over mountains. Boulders. Streams.

An oxymoron: Climate Conferences infused with Hollywood Hypocrites and their private jets,

How can we expect real change when everybody’s motives are different

People publicly striving for the same goals, but their insides rocky and twisted,  

People toss their pennies into a stream,

Half-heartedly hoping that their sacrifice will change the climate’s course,

To block a river of extinction, 

A river of parched lands haunted by the ghosts of trees

A river flowing into a world where the next climate disaster streams from the TV’s screens

A stream of tears.

Pennies are still thrown in vain, 

In time they collect in a pile of rust, 

Just so we can say ‘Yes. Look. There has been progress made!’

The pile of pennies silence any internal scream that the world cannot go on this way, 

However, this wishing well only serves to let you off the hook, 

It is a non-existent catalyst for change, 

A single rusty dam cannot keep the stream of tears at bay.

It is like the pill has been lodged in our throats,

Our earth’s curve dropping to a flatline,

It does not matter how many pennies you claim to reap,

All people must go without ‘more’, and work together in honest harmony, 

Doctors need to find a cure for this climate-action-lethargy, 

Humans are self centered,

But world does not revolve around us,

It revolves around our attitudes and the choices we make thus.

Header image by Anna Shvets via Pexels

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