America came in 15 minutes late with a tall pumpkin spice latte in his hand. To be fair, most everyone else wishes they’d done the same. Talking about poverty, world hunger, and the inevitable death of the planet during a United Nations Sustainable Development Summit wasn’t the most uplifting way a person could spend their morning. Some countries funneled their caffeine-spiked energy into making the best of it, though.
The United States slammed a fist down on the oblong table as he sprung up, and everyone looked at him with varying degrees of annoyance. “People!” He shouted, looking around the conference room. “Let’s get serious about saving the world, okay? Let me ask you something. What are we here for? We’re here to eliminate hunger, and poverty, and global warming.”
He brought a closed fist into the palm of his hand each time he punched out a word with rhythmical, increasing intensity. “Education equality, gender equality, clean water. Save the fish, save the trees, save the children, save the bees.” He pointed at different people around the room wildly for no reason other than to be doing something with his hands. “Solar energy! Wind energy! Smart cars! Gluten-free! Al Gore!”
A couple rows away, Ethiopia writhed as her important discussion with India and Kenya about infrastructure development in Sub-Saharan Africa became increasingly harder to sustain through the noise.
“Look,” America said, having both found his seat and calmed down some. “I don’t want to point fingers, but China’s air pollution is a huge problem.”
“As is your verbal pollution,” China retorted flatly without looking up from his notes.
America leaned forward, craned his neck, and eyed the other with a scrutinizing glare. “Do you think this is a joke? A game? We’re in the 11th hour, here! There’s only 12 hours on a clock, China! Which means we’re all pretty much fu–”
Canada swooped in. “America, please. All we need from you right now is your presence so we can formally adopt the new development agenda. So let’s just do what we came here to do, eh?”
“Alright, okay,” America said in a tone that came off as slightly offended. “I’m ready for this. I woke up ready for this. I also woke up ready to meet the Pope, so let’s hurry this up.”
From across the table, Sweden spoke up. “Can we go back to the thing about saving the fish?” Her voice softened. “I like fish. I have a two at home. Ansgard and Arnborg–”
America threw up his hands and shouted, “The Pope, Sweden!”
When they stepped out of the UN Headquarters and into the cool fall air, light from the big beautiful sun burning their eyes, they felt good. They’d ended the day with a sense of accomplishment, hope for a brighter future, and a backup plan to colonize Mars should the whole ‘save Earth’ thing not work out.
A big shout-out to Pine Tree Republic for giving me the idea to do a story on the UN summit.
Check out Behind the Scenes for a fun explanation of this story’s historical and political references.