A Mortal Paradox: A Poem by Maia Gorman

By GSD Competition Prizewinner Maia Gorman

I have often thought about how our society’s reaction to climate change is to prevent disasters from happening rather than engaging in positive action to create a better future. Our passive mentality can be one of the obstacles society faces in terms of environmental innovation. I think we should aim for positive change that can not only reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but improve our general state of living in terms of economic and social sustainability as well. It’s definitely more appealing to think about the good we can achieve rather than the bad we have to prevent and having an overall positive goal feels more gratifying. Maybe it would be productive to additionally focus on generating higher oxygen levels rather than solely focusing on limiting carbon emission levels.

As a Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second-best time is now”.

‘is sustainability


my question echoes

through tainted,

smog-infested air

to live in a world that wants to sustain,

is to live in a world



neutral footprints

walk along the prescribed path,

‘carbon zero’

is the new motto as we chant

in idleness

reduction, prevention, sustenance

the holy trinity of few and fair global


but as we work towards our common

survival goal,

zeal leaves the body

to be replaced with the passive,

helpless search for


could the gentle soul focus on

what could be achieved,

instead of only prevented?

a simple, paradigmatic shift:


suddenly, we are no longer trapped in the loathed



the curious human mind

seeks the eagerness

for a good change

sheer sustainability

isn’t enough for a sliver

of hope

carbon neutral?

yes, or how about

oxygen positive?

let us rename sustainability, and

call it


Header image by 愚木混株 cdd20 via Unsplash

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