“I don’t want to live in a world without cheetahs, Mom.”
Seamus loves cheetahs and what’s not to love—unless you are a Thomson’s gazelle? Cheetahs are the fastest mammals on the planet, formidable predators, sleek, saucy looking, and they even have spots.
My 6-year-old boy can’t imagine a future without his favorite animal, but we live in the small city of New London, Connecticut. Unlike coyotes, cheetahs are, to say the least, rare here. The nearest zoo is more than an hour away. I’m not sure where his love for cheetahs came from, since he doesn’t watch much television, not even nature shows. Still, here we are, my 6-year-old boy and me talking about those cheetahs and the end of nature on a Sunday morning.
His observation actually turned out to be remarkably on point when it comes to our current situation, globally and environmentally. He made it during a week in which nature was hitting back hard. If cheetahs are indeed endangered, so were surprising numbers of human beings that week as killer storms struck from the Philippines to North Carolina. With rage and rain, an increasingly overheated, climate-changed Mother Nature briefly reclaimed some of her territory, which we had defiled, dividing it up into endlessly buildable lots all the way to the high-tide line, pocking it with hog farms, studding it with nuclear power plants. Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut flooded the works, making the whole sodden mess hers again, at least for a time, and sending a signal about what humans and cheetahs are up against in the decades to come.