[Interior. The base of a winding stairwell. Tiled walls, like a hospital or an old tube station. For no apparent reason. Because it isn’t a hospital or an old tube station. No windows.]
Narrator It has been another long day. Gneiss and Tourmaline both want to go home, but the subject matter of the day has left them with concerns they both feel they will just take home with them and worry over there, if they don’t voice them now.
Tourmaline Two-by-two was never going to work.
Gneiss The very idea has left us with unhelpful assumptions.
Tourmaline Even just saying the word “ark” this morning, you could see what people were thinking.
Gneiss Do any of them really think you could save a species based on one mating pair?
Tourmaline Yes. Butter Bean gave all those examples of conservationists bringing species back or reintroducing them from tiny numbers.
Gneiss That’s not relevant.
Tourmaline I know that, you don’t have to tell me.
Gneiss Oh, well, I see, I’m sorry.
Tourmaline Apology accepted.
Gneiss Thank you. I just feel very strongly that cases of species recovering from tiny numbers, have all happened within an otherwise robust and generous ecosystem and under dedicated and undivided human help.
Tourmaline Yes, yes. The comparison would only be viable if we were talking about having a display zoo on the space station. And even then, species could die out if they only had small numbers to start with.
Gneiss Or we’d have to leave all creatures behind.
Tourmalineu But would we actually be able to survive without animals? Even if we were prepared to do it?
Gneiss If we want food, we’ll need pollinators.
Tourmaline And then something to eat the pollinators to keep their populations under control.
Gneiss What eats bees?
Tourmaline I don’t know. I’m just saying, surely you can’t just transplant part of a food chain without the rest of the food chain.
Gneiss So true. I mean, you know, if its a prey animal then you need so many more in proportion to predators anyway.
Tourmaline Yet another point to think about.
Gneiss Do we actually need living pollinators though?
Tourmaline Synthesizing the whole of the natural order would be a big project.
Gneiss Too big?
Tourmaline Who knows.
Gneiss Someone needs to know.
Tourmaline Well, I suppose that’s what we’re here for.
Gneiss But we don’t know.
Tourmaline Exactly. That’s an important message to share.
Gneiss What, that we don’t even know if it will be possible to synthesize a self-regulating ecosystem with an indefinite life-expectancy?
Tourmaline Yes. I mean, we don’t even know all the creatures that have roles we’d need to synthesize.
Gneiss Like what?
Tourmaline Well, pests.
Gneiss Are you saying we’d need an invention that would take over some job mosquitoes currently do?
Tourmaline Possibly. I mean we wouldn’t want to take mosquitoes with us, would we?
Gneiss It all comes down to the difficulty of extracting ourselves from such a complex and inter-locked system. We’re just not as separable as we’d like to be.
Tourmaline Which brings us back to the ark problem.
Gneiss How so?
TourmalineThe two-by-two fallacy.
Tourmaline Yes, I mean, what’s the real ratio we’d need to replicate? How many insects does it actually take to support one human life?