You fall asleep on the bus and wake up fifty million years in the future. You are standing at the edge of a forest at the edge of a beach. You think that it’s a forest. You think that it’s a beach.
The age of mammals has long ended. The creatures around you are chittering black masses of shell and muscle, greased limbs sliding in and out as they move.
The age of deciduous trees has long ended too. Soft green forests and their clear quick rivers are gone. Narrow-spined, waxy darts inure the trees against decade-long winters and winterish summers. Dark pools filled with sludges of various hues stretch away into the gloomy underbrush. There is an overpowering smell of rotting vegetation.
From the blackness beneath the trees a bear-sized animal drags itself into the weak sunlight. Bone-white protrusions work like pistons under its filmy skin. Its face looks like a dog crying. Groaning audibly, it drags itself onto a rock and lies there heaving.
After a few minutes the planet’s dominant intelligence rises from the surf and oozes up the sand to where you’re standing, pausing respectfully for a moment before opening an orifice towards you in greeting. Grey filaments slip backwards to reveal glistening purple folds that shiver excitedly in the sea breeze. The smell is onions. You turn away to leave, but there is nothing but trees and beach as far as you can see.
Would you have spared the oil had you known the future? Stressed about that holiday abroad? Would people have responded differently given the truth of Darwin’s Grand Plan?