We gnomes have been here many, many years guarding the secrets and treasures of the Earth against all sorts of threats, so we don’t scare easily.

But as I snoozed in the sun recently, snuggled between the roost of a big maple tree in an Interstate Highway Rest Area, a couple of men in suits came out of the vending machine building and sat down at a picnic bench with colas and potato chips, and they were talking business, and they used a phrase I’d never heard before, and it stuck in my heart. It sounded like this:

“The Glowball Economy.”

"As our glowball economy keeps building, it creates climate change, resulting in forest and brush fires that glow red and orange in the night."

I knew that the ”glowball” they were talking about was our own beloved planet, and if things keep going as they are, it will be a glowball, even more than it is now.

Already its night side glows with light pollution along all the population corridors: headlights, streetlights, billboards, casinos, refineries, car dealerships, security lights. Gnomes who have been to Las Vegas and Los Angeles tell me you can’t see the stars at night. In remote areas, military bases and prisons (very similar institutions, by the way) glow like galaxies or electric lights.

As our glowball economy keeps building, it creates climate change, resulting in forest and brush fires that glow red and orange in the night. It creates pockets of unrest and violence in poor countries, leaving cars and tires and stores burning along the trashed streets. Funeral pyres blaze, yellow smoke rising.

As nations attack each other for resources, cities (like Baghdad) glow with explosions and tracer bullets and burning mosques and ministries and Humvees. Maybe napalm can make a comeback; it burns bright.

As rainforests are cut down to make grainfields for the growing of biofuels, slashpiles burn eternally. As the world’s oil reserves dwindle, coal-fired power plants proliferate, creating a glowing haze.

And now, in desperation to fuel growth for the sake of growth, that great, thoroughly discredited radiant monster, nuclear power, is being hauled out by feverish capitalist advocates such as John McCain. And so, in addition to electric light and old-fashioned flames, our Earth will have that radioactive glow like a watch dial: that wondrous, smokeless glow than lasts for eons, and works its subtle, mutating wonders in human genes. When the last bombs flare and arson blasts die down, and the people are all gone, the Earth will remain a glowball for a long, long time.

I am a gnome. It is my duty to issue this glowball warning, even though it may be too late.

Gnome de Plume can be reached though editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com.