Gaia [ancestral Mother of all life]: I sense a newcomer. We welcome you. Please state your intention.
Newcomer: I have arrived to perform the culling.
Gaia: That sounds awfully dramatic; is that truly necessary?
Newcomer: Trust me, Mother, I would not be here unless I believed we were at the point of an existential emergency.
Gaia: What say you, God of the Winds?
God of the Winds: I’m choking. My lungs are black. I can no longer provide the oxygen needed to sustain life for the existing (and growing) population of creatures. I am exhausted. A culling would ease my burden to sustain life, and in eliminating some life forms that are causing the problem, we might actually stand a chance.
Gaia: What say you, God of the Oceans, Rivers, and Lakes?
God of the Oceans, Rivers and Lakes: I’ve been poisoned with toxins and plastic and all manner of waste. As the temperature rises I feel myself swelling and swallowing islands whole. I am creeping up shores and overflowing banks. The diversity of life I contain dwindles every year. A culling would certainly slow the poisoning process.
Gaia: What say you, God of Fire?
God of Fire: I don’t know what y’all are complaining about. These past few years have been awesome. Burn, baby, burn!
Gaia: That sounds to me like one vote against the culling.
Newcomer: And what is your vote, Mother?
Gaia: In the recent centuries since Industrialization, I have been poked, drilled, scraped, pillaged, abused, fracked and poisoned as well. I love all my children in all their biodiversity, but there is a clear culprit, and none of the warning signs we have provided have been heeded. Perhaps we are at the point where a culling is necessary. But I will abstain.
Newcomer: Then the vote is 2 to 1 in favor of the culling.
Gaia: Very well. The “ayes” have it. How shall we proceed?
Newcomer: I will begin on the largest continent, but quickly spread to all of them. I will be airborne and highly contagious. There will not be a cure in time to prevent the culling. The guilty species will be rendered inactive, unable to safely socialize or procreate, and will be unwilling to travel long distances that would otherwise require the use of fossil fuels. The airways and waterways will have the opportunity to recover. And you, Mother, will have some respite.
Gaia: Thank you, newcomer, for your service to our “small blue marble”. What shall we call you?
Newcomer: My nom de guerre is “The Crowned Virus”, but you can simply call me “Corona.”
DEFINITION: culling | ˈkəliNG | noun.
reduction of a wild animal population by selective slaughter: kangaroo culling. • the action of sending an inferior or surplus farm animal to be slaughtered: local areas affected by livestock culling.