A Letter from a Carbon Atom

Author: Lydia Tang

Dear Humans, 

Hi, my name is Carbon. I’m pretty sure you know who I am. Or at least you think you know. You might know me as “the guy who caused global warming”. You might theorize where I’m from. “Are you from the big bang? The OG? Or are you from some random comet that infiltrates the earth like everyone else? Not cool man.” I digress. None of these is important. What’s important- is that my population makes up most of your world, and yes, that includes you. I don’t want to get too full of myself, but without me, you wouldn’t exist. 

I’m here today because I want to tell you the story of my people. The misunderstandings, the judgments, I want to clear that up. I want you to understand the situation we are in. A cry for help, perhaps, a plea to work with us, and the world around you. 

I want to start off from the beginning of our journey. We came to this earth by a comet… I think. I don’t actually know where I am from. I was too young to remember, and I can’t imagine my people being that important at the time. But I remember being in the atmosphere in a world similar to this, however, it was… peaceful. There was less chaos, less drama, less noise. It was calm. It was warm though, really warm. None of us liked it. We dominated the atmosphere, I think. It was like Zeus gave us power over the skies, and we exploited it. We learned to make ourselves useful, by being the food for plants and trees. Sometimes we got catapulted back out, sometimes we got eaten by animals, which was fine. As long as we are being useful, right? It means I just have to wait longer to see my family again. With this cycle, we managed to cool the temperatures down. Okay- maybe a bit too much, but hey I was happy chillin’ in the ground. 

After a while, we started sinking. And we sank lower…


And lower… 

But hey, we were vibing underground. And most of my friends were also down there with me, either in rocks, soil, or fossils. We were having a blast, or so we thought…

Out of the blue, some of my friends disappeared. We saw humans digging us up, putting us through a blast furnace, and sending us back into the atmosphere. It happened so quickly and all I could think was “not another warm period”. None of us wanted it. It wasn’t our choice. We never had a choice. We had no autonomy over where we were. We were being emitted by the masses. We all knew where we were headed, and none of us wanted this to happen. As I looked around at the fellow Carbons around me, we were all equally terrified. Terrified of what would happen if this continued. Not to us, but to you. To your world. The impending doom. 

I guess this explains the reason why I’m here. A cry for help. A plea to you to work with us. I can’t do much myself, except to fulfil my utmost duty- to keep you alive. The way we were distributed worked for a very long time. Now, I’m not so sure about that anymore. We have witnessed the extinction of biodiversity before because of the temperature, something we can’t control. And yet, we are put to blame. But you, humans, are the only species I have encountered that has the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to defy what was impossible – breaking our equilibrium. You are the only ones that can save yourselves. We are just pawns in your chess match. Use us wisely. Your next move… can make or break your game. 

All the best, 


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