Illustration by nik harron.

Throughout our near-45-year existence, Alternatives Journal has published countless interviews about the Earth, but sadly none of them with the Earth. Better late than never, we say, and on a lovely sunny Saturday in June, A\J met up with our very own Pachamama as she was enjoying a day of rest. We had a lot of catching up to do, and Pachamama was happy to spin a tale.

A\J: You’ve had some, shall we say, rocky moments in your lifetime.
Pachamama: [giggles]

Can you think of one moment that has particularly defined you?
Oh yes. For a long, long time, you see, there really wasn’t much going on in my world. It was mostly just spinning around in circles. Millennium after millennium! After a while, a girl longs for something to happen! Then suddenly it felt like something just went click in the sea. Wriggly things and branching things and curly things, and doing all sorts of brand new things I’d never imagined. First in the sea, then all over me. Life became so interesting!

How will this defining moment prepare you for what lies ahead?
Well, it does seem that I’ve got a change of costume coming. This one’s getting pretty tattered, isn’t it? Too many rips and missing pieces. Some of the seams are pretty much ready to go. They’re coming loose already.

But you know, dear, this isn’t my first dress. For the longest time when I was younger, I wore nothing but a gauzy little number, nothing obvious to the eye unless you looked very closely. Then I had my hot period: all that oversize lush greenery and those fascinating creatures like your lizards today, only so much bigger and so many kinds of them. Then one day, bam! Most of the lizard life disappeared.

And then, my next dress was even lovelier! New flowers and creatures. The lizards became fantastic fliers, and so colourful. And there were altogether new things. Why, that’s when your own great, great, great, great – well, too many greats to count – grandparents turned up. It was quite an innovation, you know, the way they stayed warm even when it got cold and all the other creatures slowed down and almost stopped.

You’ve recently starred in a lot of postapocalyptic movies. How do you get into the role?
Oh that’s easy. I just pick a moment from my past that suits. Steaming hot beds of lava? I can do that. Howling winds and towering waves? Ice canyons? Sauna jungles? I can do those. Honey, I’ve played them all since long before you… well, you know.

Are there some days when you just don’t feel like supporting life?
Oh heavens, no. Do you have any idea how boring those first 700 million years were? And anyway, what else would I do with myself?

How do you get over your down days?
Oh, I’m always looking forward to what surprising thing you’ll all come up with next. Dragonflies, now. I never expected those! I don’t wish to be unmotherly, dear, but you bunch have taken over so much of me now that you’re getting a little tedious. I’m rather looking forward to a change. Although I do think I may miss you more than some of the others. So inventive. So much promise. Ah, well.

When were you happiest?
Oh, dear. You don’t want to know.

Kyrke Gaudreau is the Sustainability Manager at the University of Northern British Columbia. Dr. Gaudreau completed his PhD in social and ecological sustainability at the University of Waterloo where his research focused on the sustainability assessment of energy systems. He has consulted on various strategic and environmental assessments of energy systems in Canada, and has researched and written about energy systems sustainability in several different countries. 

Chris Wood, is an author, speaker and journalist. He first wrote about the environment in the 1970s, winning awards for his coverage of nuclear power and agrochemicals. His most recent book, Down the Drain: How We Are Failing to Protect Our Water Resources (2013), written with Ralph Pentland, details how successive federal governments have neglected Canada’s water and proposes new thinking to instigate change. Wood, his wife and their two bull terriers live in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

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