After the last forests get eaten up, thirty years from now, and the mountains are being mined to the core, stripped of anything remotely valuable in them or blasted for roads and highways, society doesn't stop working. What isn't desert waste is urban sprawl now, just miles and miles of it everywhere you go. But we keep on. Science is flourishing. They've figured out how to keep us alive forever, even without all the trees and lakes and rivers. We don't need that.

One of our best scientists invented time travel. It only goes back so far. I grew up rich and with nothing to worry about and with all the best connections, and the right training. They let me volunteer to go back, to test everything. I'm not supposed to touch anything or do anything that would change the timeline because of paradox or whatever, but I don't need to worry about that. I'm not interested in the people so much.

Do you know there's still trees here? I did some research when I got here and I found someone to take me out to some cabin in the Wenatchee National Forest. We drove over these beautiful snow-capped mountains to get there. The poor girl who was driving me thought I was crazy, all staring agape in wonder at everything.

And then we got there and there were no people around anywhere in sight, no buildings, no sprawl. Just the road and the little cabin and the trees, which were alive and beautiful and free. It was quiet.

I told her, "I've never seen anything like this," and she agreed it was beautiful, like she has never had to understand why she appreciates it.

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