David Folland and Nancy Von Allmen: Maybe it is time to build another ark

(Noah Berger | AP photo) Embers fly from a tree as the Glass Fire burns in St. Helena, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020.

Dear Noah:

Three millennia ago, I asked you to build an ark for your family and two of all animal species because you were an honest, ethical person. When I became disheartened that humanity had become so greedy, I flooded the planet for 40 days and 40 nights for a new start. Thanks for your help.

Sadly, I fear we are there again. Maybe it’s time to build another ark. This time it won’t have to be so big because many animal species have disappeared from the planet.

Again, humanity hasn’t listened to my appeals to be caring stewards of the Earth and of each other. They seem more interested in themselves and their wealth than the future of the planet for their children and their children’s children. Many countries have corrupt leaders who are unethical and unable to lead wisely.

After Henry Ford created the automobile 125 years ago, people bought other carbon-polluting items like motorboats, trucks, Jet Skis, motor homes, trailers, snowmobiles, ATVs, SUVs and gas lawn mowers. By 2000, humanity’s health was badly affected by these carbon emissions. For each gallon of gasoline used, 20 pounds of carbon go into the atmosphere.

As humans added carbon to the atmosphere, global temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt billions of tons of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, causing sea levels to rise, flooding coastal cities and threatening island nations throughout the world. The warmer atmosphere retains more moisture, causing more droughts and more severe storms. As droughts increase, catastrophic fires follow.

Many of your descendants speak of climate change, but too many in the Western world, Noah, ignore the warnings, thinking it doesn’t apply to them. They continue to buy big cars and big houses, generating even more carbon pollution.

Warn your people that the world’s glaciers are melting due to carbon emissions. When Himalayan glaciers are gone, the 10 great rivers of Asia will dry up. This water source serves the livelihood and agriculture for 2 billion people. When will your people learn to care and change their behavior? Noah, what will persuade people to lower carbon emissions with smaller automobiles, smaller homes and smaller families?

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring” to warn how pesticides and insecticides poison the planet and its resources. She described how these toxins kill honeybees, which pollinate all the fruits and vegetables humanity needs to eat. Insecticides sicken humanity and poison birds and groundwater. Carson’s warnings were ignored and the planet now suffers badly from chemicals sprayed on lawns and golf courses.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich wrote “The Population Bomb” explaining that too many births are overwhelming the planet and its resources. Too many people born today cannot be fed, clothed, housed, educated, employed or medically served. Ehrlich advised that families have no more than two children to address this problem and save human civilization. His recommendations were ignored so the planet continues to suffer from overcrowding and depletion of nonrenewable resources.

It took thousands of years for the world population to reach 3 billion and only 50 years to reach the next 3 billion.

Remind your people, Noah, that focusing on increasing their wealth will further destroy this fragile spaceship called Earth. No amount of money can buy another Planet Earth.

I have some hope that humanity is caring more about racial justice and the less fortunate. Is there hope that humanity can become less materialistic, less greedy, less egocentric and more ethical? I believe in the basic goodness of humanity to come together, to act in ways that show they care about one another and the stewardship of our home planet.

I flooded the Earth because people had become too self-centered and greedy. This time, after all my warnings, the citizens of the Earth are suffering from a cataclysmic infectious “flood,” a pandemic. My highest hope is for this consequence to awaken people to action — to become more conscious of the world around them, to stop all floods of any kind. It is in their strong and able hands! I really don’t want you to have to build another ark.

With best wishes,


Nancy Von Allmen

Nancy von Allmen, Millcreek, is a conservationist frightened about the glaciers that have disappeared from the view shed of Murren, Switzerland, her husband’s hometown.

David Folland

David Folland, M.D., is a Sandy pediatrician who cares deeply about our children’s future.