6:00 AM. The strident shriek of my alarm clock jolts me awake.
I slap the snooze button.
6:09 AM. Another shriek. Another slap.
6:18 AM. I put the clock and myself out of our collective misery and stumble to the bathroom.
Less than 1% of the water on Earth is considered “fresh,” which is to say it is not seawater. A far smaller fraction of that so-called “fresh” water is actually potable. I crank the faucet on the shower and ease myself under the steam and hot spray. Several gallons of pure, drinkable, truly fresh water mix with soap suds and a day’s worth of human sweat and oil, and swirl in a clockwise motion (the Coreolis Effect being, at this magnitude, a misunderstood non-phenomenon) down the drain. Into the sewer system. Into the next phase of their existence as part of that 99%+ of the world’s non-potable water.
I dry myself off, get dressed, fill my Thermos, and walk to the car. I turn the key, hear the engine roar. Its pistons fire, burning a highly-refined form of petroleum that was once, millions of years ago, the flesh and substance of untold species of flora and fauna. They lived their lives, died, decomposed, were covered over by the decomposed substance of their progeny, subsumed beneath the surface, compressed over the eons, turning to a mysterious black liquid that one day would become more valuable than gold to a species that did not yet exist. A substance that would generate untold wealth and wars, things that also did not yet exist.
A gallon of this refined liquid, formed over the millennia, transports me in comfort and — barring an unexpected collision with an SUV, the playground bully of the Interstate highway — safety from home to office.
8:30 AM. I turn the key, open the door, and walk to my desk. I sit down in front of a box of metal and plastic, a precision device, assembled in Mexico by laborers whose annual wages might… perhaps… allow them to afford one of these devices themselves, were it not for more basic needs such as food and shelter.
This box is already obsolete, and those laborers are hard at work even now as I sit at my desk, assembling the latest replacement units that will themselves pass with great haste into obsolescence, soon to find their permanent (for the next several tens of thousands of years, anyway) home in a landfill, next to the mounds of paper towels I used to dry my hands in the office lavatory and the styrofoam container and waxed-paper cup from my lunch today and eventually the larger box of metal and plastic as well, the one with 4 wheels, which burns 2 gallons of that refined liquid daily to transport me to this office and back home again.