How many times have we heard that there is no more time for our planet? Perhaps, thanks to our innate ability to adapt to everything, we are now used to this as well. Of course, we know it, there is no more time.
The oldest fire recorded on Earth has been identified from charcoal in rocks formed during the late Silurian Period, around 420 million years ago. It would have been useful not only for light and warmth at night, but to frighten off predatory animals, and the smoke would have been effective in keeping insects away. The first wildfires date back to the same period with the appearance of terrestrial plants.
The use of flints to start fire may have occurred as far back as 400,000 years ago — but concrete evidence only comes from as recently as 40,000 years ago —, that would reveal an ability that would have enabled more regular and managed use, allowing the development of cooking, expanding our diet.
But here it is no longer a question of human needs or unplanned fire in an area of combustible vegetation. Wildfires are raging once again across Europe and North America as scorching temperatures and dry conditions fuel the blazes that have cost lives and destroyed livelihoods. The combination of extreme heat and prolonged drought have in many regions led to the worst fires in almost a decade, and come as the IPCC is poised to hand down a landmark report on the climate crisis.
Scientists warn rising global temps due to greenhouse gas emissions are increasing the risk of fire conditions across the planet. To these is added the stubborn indifference of the cigarette end-throwers and the arsonist business that, as any other business, has put the profit at the top of any common good, even that of the planet. Even that of the children’s future.
“There is no more time for our planet”. Yes, of course, but we have no time too. And here is that the verses by poet Delmore Schwartz seem to belong to us, today more than ever…
Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
— How all things flash! How all things flare! —
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
from April’s Day
by Delmore Schwartz