I knocked tentatively on the door.
“Come in, come in” said the voice.
I noticed the faded sign saying ‘GOD’ in large gold lettering.
“Don’t be shy; what can I do for you”?
“Well it’s about a planet called Earth” I said. “We are having some problem at the moment.”
“I see” He said.
“There are lots of planets out there, I can’t remember them all….do you have the serial number?”
“No!” I said.
“It is just called Earth and is located in the Milky Way”.
“The Milky Way!” He said. “Sounds like a chocolate bar!” chuckling.
“Do you have the space co-ordinates then?”
“No” I said “but I have a few photographs of the stars looking out from our planet”.
“Ok, let me see” He said peering at the photos.
“Oh yes, I recognise this, but it is in a pretty obscure area of the universe you know; I haven’t looked at it since, well since we drew up the blueprints! About four and a half billion years ago! It’s been a while!” He said.
“To be honest I delegated this area of the universe to one of my helpers”.
“Send up Angel 313” he said into the intercom whilst pressing a red button.
“Angel 313 will be able to help you”.
There was a knock on the door and a rather slight man, late middle-aged with a pair of bedraggled wings hanging from his back, entered looking a little sheepish.
“Angel 313, this visitor says they have a problem with their planet; do you know anything about it?”
Glancing at the photographs Angel 313 started: “Well, yes I have been keeping an eye on it, but I didn’t want to bother you, there is still a chance that things might get better…” he trailed off.
“I see. What exactly is the problem?”
“Well” said Angel 313 “It’s like this.
“Get on with it” He commanded.
“Well, they got off to a fairly good start, but were a bit unlucky with meteorites; the contractors let quite a lot of debris floating around this galaxy”.
“Did anyone complain?” He thundered. “This is not the first time they have left a mess; why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Well I know how busy you are” mumbled Angel 313 “I didn’t want to bother you!”
“Alright, go on” He commanded again.
“Well” explained Angel 313, growing in confidence, “they evolved some interesting life forms, but as I said, they were a bit unlucky to be hit by large meteorites about five times over the last 500 millions years..”
“Five times in half a billion years? That doesn’t sound too bad; we have had much worse than that!”
“Yes” said Angel 313 “but the timings were unfortunate and they lost some promising life forms. I particularly liked a group we called the dinosaurs. They were very adaptable and had lasted a very long time without doing much damage to the planet. They did a lot of damage to each other though” he chuckled “but that was half the fun!”
“Get to the point!”
“Well after one particularly severe impact by a comet, about 65 million years ago…”
“No long ago then” He interrupted.
“Yes, these poor old dinosaur species died although one particular group with feathers…”
“You like them I’m sure” He beamed.
“Yes the feathered ones carried on and have been doing great things, composing songs, generally minding their own business and cheering everyone up. They were doing great…..until the problem species appeared”.
“That’s us!” I chimed in!
“I see. Well you seem fairly civil” He said. “What’s the problem?”
“The problem” said Angel 313 “is that they are absolutely hopeless at getting along with each other. They started off well, as small furry creatures that no one really took much notice of. But recently…”
“How recent?” He interrupted again.
“About 5 million years” said Angel 313. There was a really remarkable step change in the intelligence and communicative ability of one particular lineage….”
“Primates” I interjected.
“Yes” said Angel 313 “One particular primate which seems to think it owns the planet and is taking up so much room there is little left for all the other creatures” he said breathlessly.
“We had great hopes at first; this one species…”
“Humans” I stated.
“Yes, humans” said Angel 313. “They made some good progress and even managed to create some useful stuff”.
“Show me” He said.
“Well there was this one human called Bach, he created some interesting sound arrangements – here is one”.
“Not bad” He said. “It’s a bit simple but I like it.”
“Another one, called Einstein, made a good stab at trying to describe some of the properties of the universe; here is one of his equations” said Angel 313 holding up a note-book.
“Not quite right is it” He said “but at least it is along the right lines.”
“Yes” said Angel 313 “but they often go off on tangents…”
“Anyway, the problem is that the humans have become very numerous; they dominate the planet and hog all of the resources. It would not be too bad, but they do everything so inefficiently that they are squandering all of the planet’s resources, and many of the other species are getting squeezed out. The problem is that humans are so busy squabbling amongst themselves, that they are in danger of causing a real catastrophe”.
“Some of us realise what is happening” I chimed in “which is why I came to see You!”
“So” he said “when were you going to bring this to my attention Angel 313?”
“Well I was waiting to see whether they managed to wake up and do something about it themselves first” the angel replied.
“We did that before on Planet 0154350-0765-8498, you may recall? And they did a good job of restoring the equilibrium without our intervention”.
“Well you know this planet better than me” He said “what do you recommend Angel 313?”
“Leave it for a while” the Angel said. “We know that the planet bounces back quite well; it has done so at least five times. I would recommend leaving it for say, another 10 million years, and see what happens. If the humans muck it up then there will be another series of catastrophic extinctions, but the survivors will bounce back and evolve again.
“Yes” He said, and we might get a better one next time. “OK Angel 313, I’ll take your advice, but I want you to keep a close eye on things and report back at least every one million years, OK? Please don’t leave it for another 10 million years! I may be busy but I like to know what is going on!”
“Right” He said looking at me. “You have heard what Angel 313 has said. He will keep an eye on your planet. But it is also up to you humans to fix things up as best you can. Go back to Earth and tell your fellows about our meeting. Let them know that I will not intervene for at least another one million years, so you need to look after the Earth by yourselves for a while, and I don’t need to tell you that that means looking after all of the other species as well! And I do mean All of the other species. OK?
“Ok, thank-you I said. I’ll tell them!”
I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.