Interview with a carbon atom

by Fabrizio Zago

-Good morning Mr. Carbon, how are you?
-Well, considering the years I have – I come from the Big Bang that formed the Universe – I feel really fit, even if I begin to have serious doubts that you humans know what you are doing.
-Can you make that clear to me? For example, tell me your story.
-My story? Difficult to condense in a few words a life of millions of years, but I can say that I remember being a carbon atom that was the wood fiber of a beautiful tree. I also remember that a Tyrannosaurus came to eat its leaves. Then, one fine day, the tree in which I was there, was knocked down and after it burnt for a while, there was a lot of heat, dear Human!
-And what happened then?
-They just made me marry with two oxygen atoms and I became carbon dioxide and ended up in heaven. To my great surprise I found myself in the company of many other molecules like myself, we were not many, the CO2 layer that we formed was contained and above all, over millions of years it was always the same. We found ourselves, even after a long time, with other carbon atoms and it was a party.
-Since you seem a bit down, what happened to give you so bad a mood?
-Well, what happened is that next to us “traditional” carbons we began to meet other carbons and we asked them “where do you come from?” They answered “from below ground, from mineral oil!” and their number increased continuously, so that today they are the majority. The CO2 layer has increased a lot, causing a warming effect on the planet. But it seems that you humans do not care much; of course, you talk a lot, but you don’t do a damn to fix things.
-And what should we do, by all means?
-You could use substances from vegetable origin instead of from mineral oil, even to make surfactants, substances that are used for your personal hygiene or to wash clothes, so that among others the CO2 status would not deteriorate unnecessarily.
-It is true that we start to see foam baths and creams based on vegetable oils from renewable sources. But with bottles, how do we deal with the bottles? Those are plastic, thus from mineral oil!
-Update yourself, Human! Then you would – while lacking love for your planet – at least do something good. I saw beautiful bottles obtained from plant sources.
-In short, dear Carbon, can we do something?
-Yup! Dear Human, you can do a lot when you’d start using your senses when making choices.

P.S. The idea for ​​this interview came from reading a fantastic book by Primo Levi “The Periodic System”, only that Levi was much better than me, so I apologise to him and to you.