28 August 2010 – Another day. More dreams of what might be, more steps on the footpath of the here and now, the broken-off branches from last night’s windy-as-hell storm all over the place, the noise of it in my ears still as I side-step the bigger ones.

In my mind the possibilities clash with the debris of what’s in front of me.

Suddenly, “Take me to the other side of town”, the lilt of Kasey Chambers’ ‘Bluebird’ starts singing in my head as I’m walking.


But I can’t get the wildness of the storm out of my head.

It sounds like my future when within the next 10 years I expect to be swamped with such storms.  Well may we sing, “Take me to the other side of town”, because nothing will save we Earth’s humans.

A pox on them, these besmirchers of our beautiful Earth.  They’re bringing us such harm that sometimes it fully does my head in, like now.

Anyway, I wonder as I walk on, what would the “other side of town” look like, and how might we get there?

Perhaps if we could all walk Earth’s footpath we’d get some idea?

Would you like to see Earth’s footpath?  If, “Yes”, then please join me in one 90 minute orbit around Earth in the International Space Station.  We don’t so much walk as float.

Let’s go.

And may I offer you an in-flight guide to the sights below as we go?

To make it more fun the guide lists some of the countries being done in like my head is but not the order we’ll see them as we whiz over them –  see if you can play this game and find:

  • Australia: the yellow of wheat crops failing in WA but the green from floods in the east producing bumper crop.
  • China: Earth’s biggest water sub ground reservoir in the middle there is almost gone, empty river beds everywhere; see the watery left overs of last month’s worst flooding in more than a decade – it’s cut production of rice,  cotton and pork – they make a third of the globe’s rice and cotton and about half its pork
  • Pakistan: worst floods recorded and you can see them flowing strongly now, and little bright flashes of sunlight off the brown waters
  • Russia: it’s the hottest July in 130 years there, the worst drought in 50 years and their wheat crop is nearly halved, and 230 folks in Moscow have drowned trying to cool off while drunk on vodka
  • US: New York’s heat wave has brought new record temperatures
Drought in the wheatlands

Try these special high-powered lookout binoculars. Can you spot four islands of plastic rubbish becalmed in the oceans; they’re about the size of Tasmania.

And can you see the man-made dead seas off the Missisippi River and other large rivers draining brown-coloured filth from our most developed countries?

And try the thermal imaging camera. With it you can see the heat islands over our cities. It shows you what the sun sees; black roads, black roofs, no trees.

See the startling dark reds of roads, and the cooler, light blues of the privately owned buildings? The roads are red arteries of all Earth’s cities and they’re in an un-natural fever, summer and winter. Up here they’re a riveting blaze of red cobwebs. I love how, as the first sun’s touching now that beautifullest of harbours in Sydney, Australia, the red still in the roads from yesterday’s sun is becoming even redder with this day’s new heat. Such an awful beauty. Truth at work.

All that heat pollution. None of it targeted by Earth’s pollution laws. All ignored by that little blue ball’s “city planners”.

Ahh, you’re laughing. Yes, funny to think of all the humans with their “laws,” their star rating schemes, their “Sustainable Departments  . . . “.

But this footpath brings me to silence now. That blue-sea ball, so alone among its spread-out sister stars. Its galactic magic is being star-fucked by we little animals we call “humans”. Seems so silly from up here.

Imagine if we’d been able to zip around like this in 1914 to 1918 during the years of the Great War. We could’ve looked down on the smokey skies over France, the little smudges of explosions, the little corpses across the little muddy fields.

If I was alive then and able to look down from here I’d‘ve been curious to see, too, the parliaments and the tents of the governors and generals. I’d like to have watched them taking tea on the patios and campsites while they’re killing a generation of young men, thousands with each sip, swing my eyes from tea cup to battle field. To see from outer space a generation of failed leadership taking morning tea.

But we’ve a generation of failed leaders, too. See that little tower there in New York where the United Nations is? We can pick it out and all the other parliaments of the little countries we’re zipping over, but we’re moving so fast we only have a few seconds to pick each one up but this new App we’ve put into the Space Station’s telescope shows them as we go, no problems.

Whoops. We’re almost back home now. That was so quick.

You can see how it may be only a few years ‘til the droughts, floods, and crop failures we saw this last hour and a half spread everywhere and dominate the little ball. No Apps for all that stuff.

(You can get a touch of this footpath trip by using Google Earth and spinning over the ball like this but you won’t have the special Apps of the Space Station to see the as-it’s-happening convulsions we just saw.)

The other side of town isn’t there, I guess.

Bye, space. At least you’ll still be there for that little damaged ball to whiz around in.

Michael Mobbs is a sustainability coach who advises, teaches and speaks on sustainability issues. He works with developers, governments and communities to design and obtain approvals for houses, units and subdivisions. He is based in the inner Sydney suburb of Chippendale, where in 1996 he pioneered the conversion of his inner city terrace into a sustainable house, which has now been disconnected to mains water and sewerage and is powered by solar energy. www.sustainablehouse.com.au

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