The Blue planet
In the great Arena of Adjudication a single note sounded.
The delegation from the Brown Planet entered the Arena into their central enclosure and stood in their allocated places, staring straight ahead defiantly at the huge empty hall with its encircling rows of seats arranged in tiers.
It was designed to be imposing and imposing it was, even when empty. But they were determined not to be cowed. They were supremely confident in their appeal. Their demeanour reflected that confidence. They knew their case was watertight. They had put it together with the utmost care. The compassion of the grand council was renowned. They had employed the best legal minds to put forward their case. There could only be one outcome. This was a mere formality.
A second note sounded and the rows of seats filled with their delegates.
When all were seated a third note sounded and the Chief Adjudicator solemnly entered, bowed to the delegates, stood for a moment studying the petitioners stood in the centre of the Arena and then took her place.
A fourth note sounded and a voice solemnly announced that the Intergalactic Council of Adjudication was now in session.
After a suitable pause the Chief Adjudicator leaned forward, surveying the group of petitioners stood in their enclosure in the centre of the large courtroom. They were surrounded on all sides by the three thousand and seven delegates representing all the constituent members of the sentient races represented on the council. This was a routine that she had presided over many times. It was part theatre and part law. The judgements were recorded and seen by all throughout the system. Transparency was of the utmost importance. It was a ritual that carried the full weight of Intergalactic law. It had to reflect that importance.
‘Are you the representatives from the Brown Planet,’ she asked sternly, following protocol.
‘We are,’ the chief petitioner said his voice strong and unwavering.
‘Do you represent the 400 billion people of your planet? That planet which is known as the Brown Planet by the assembled delegates of this council?’
‘We do,’ the chief petitioner assured her, his voice oozing confidence.
‘We have studied your petition at length,’ the Chief Adjudicator announced. She peered solemnly down at the group of humans gathered in the centre awaiting her judgement. All the eyes of the delegates were fixed on them, yet they stood resolute before the council.
‘We have watched your progress through the ages with great interest and no little concern.’ The Chief Adjudicator began her preamble. ‘Many of us called your planet the Blue Planet, the magnificent water world. Some called it the Green Planet after its profusion of chlorophyll based life which produced such abundance, a wealth of living creatures.’
She raised her head and earnestly studied each one of the petitioners in turn.
‘We watched your species develop and gain ascendancy. We observed your prodigious increase in numbers and your effect on the plant and animal life around you with grave distress.’
‘We watched while you systematically destroyed your forests and polluted your vast oceans until the profusion of life was all but gone and the green had turned to brown.’
She frowned at the gathered petitioners.
‘We waited expectantly for some sign of awakening.’ The frown turned to a glower tinged with sadness. ‘We saw none.’
She glared fiercely at them but they had expected this. They knew they would receive harsh words before their petition was granted. They had foreseen this and were not intimidated.
‘At the final stroke we still had hopes that you would come to your senses, control your burgeoning population, clean up the oceans, replant your forests and re-establish the ecosystems. Our hopes were dashed.’
She scowled darkly at them while the three thousand and seven delegates stared down impassively. Somehow, despite all the intensity, the petitioners remained unmoved.
‘Even when the oxygen in the atmosphere was depleted and the carbon dioxide levels were dangerously high you did not come to your senses. You continued to plunder and grow in numbers in your lust for growth, for inordinate wealth and power. You ransacked and used the resources as if there was no tomorrow.’
The petitioners felt the thousands of eyes of the council boring into them and their armour of confidence was finally pierced. They began to feel uneasy.
‘Your solution was not to rectify your mistakes but to use up more precious resources, to build domes over your cities, to build carbon scrubbers and split oxygen from water; to bring ice from the asteroids to replenish your stagnant oceans. The whole planet was nothing more than your plaything to be used for your own devices. In the face of disaster your greed and selfishness remained undiminished.’
The petitioners continued to stare back at her impassively. They knew they had to accept the barbs but were still confident that the judgement could only go one way. Nobody could possibly be that callous.
The Chief Adjudicator halted and looked around at the assembled delegates.
‘People from the Brown Planet, it is our unanimous judgement,’ she intoned solemnly, pausing for just the right period of time, ‘that your petition be rejected.’
A gasp went up from the petitioners as a look of alarm that turned to horror spread across their faces.
‘But you can’t do that!’ The chief petitioner spluttered. ‘You will be consigning us all to death!’
‘It is our hope,’ the Chief Adjudicator said calmly, ignoring his outburst, ‘that given sufficient time the Brown Planet will once again be Blue.’ With that she rose and left the chamber.
A note sounded, the delegates left, leaving the hapless humans helplessly staring round at the empty chamber with nobody to blame but themselves.