Atmospheric Engineering

The sunset casts a blue hue over the habi-dome. They say that on Earth, the sunsets used to be orange. That’s before the atmosphere was filled with sulphur. Now the sky is yellow all the time. I brought my family here to Mars because at least there’s enough oxygen in the air to stay outside for a few hours. Back on Earth, if your habi-dome leaked you’d find out in the morning because your pillow would be soaked in fluid from your dissolved lungs.

There’s so much sulphur in the air on Earth that we no longer need to harvest the Venusian atmosphere. It saves a hundred-million kilometres each trip, and it feels like we’re doing a little bit to clean up our mess on our old planet.

My job is basically to order the sulphur. You need a lot of fertiliser when you’re growing a rainforest to cover an entire planet, and sulphur is a key ingredient. One day we’ll make the planet green, but it won’t be in my lifetime. And when we finally do, Earth will be the alien planet.

It’s late and I’m home with my daughters. “Come quick!” I tell them “Earth is about to set over the horizon.” We watch from the front yard of the habi-dome, standing on the genetically engineered lawn as the pale blue dot sets in the pale blue sky. Maybe one day my daughters will be atmospheric engineers like me, making Earth inhabitable once more.

T

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