As I walked into the forest in my enchanted stupor, a certain degree of automation enveloped my body. It was like my movements were being dictated by the forest itself, as the trees slowly murmured in the wind, “This way, come along…” I kept going on a muddy, wooded path, which eventually vanished into the thick undergrowth of the forest which covered the stage on which the giant oaks, poplars and willows stood, their hands reaching out to the sky and embracing the vastness above. Through the minute crevices between the vast canopy that the titans held in place as it swayed like a superstructure in the wind, thin shafts of sunlight shot through and hit the forest floor like lines of gold on a bluish-black backdrop. The perfect setting to let go and let the forest guide you into the nether, a realm of natural, earthy darkness, which was a considerable change from the artificial, industrial darkness that I was used to for most of my life.
As I reveled at the beauty and majesty of the gentle giants that stood all around me, I could not help but feel a sense of humility as I stood amongst them. Still in a trance, I crept towards one of the willows in front of me and embraced the giant in order to show my immense gratitude and respect for the titan. As I pressed my ear against its massive trunk, my arms barely reaching the end of one half of the trunk, I heard a small whisper which said, “Heed, listen, see!” I pulled back in amazement and anxiety, as I felt myself topple to the ground in awe. Did the tree just whisper to me or are were those mushrooms that I found on my way “magical”?
I slowly got up, moved forward in a gait that reflected anticipation and anxiety at the same and pressed my ear against the trunk again, this time more cautiously. The voice, which had the subtle baritone of a man, the delicateness of a woman and the tenderness of a child, whispered again, “Heed the hollow below.” I looked down at the hollow at the foot of the tree as it gaped open in a wide “Aah!” I crept up and positioned myself inches in front of the hollow and looked into it. Utter darkness illuminated it, as pitch black as the night sky, seemingly deep as well. I put my head into the darkness and waited for something to happen. As soon as I did place my head within the hollow, the interior of the tree reverberated with the sound of a scream-like echo, much like a siren. As the echo subsided, I came out of the hole to find myself in another part of the forest, in the midst of a forest fire that had just started its feeding frenzy as it engulfed a few bushes and scrubs, slowly and evasively dancing its way on to the branches of the giant willows of the train that I had just come out of. I immediately broke of the branches which had been infected by the fire, gathered handfuls of sand and poured them on the half-burnt bushes and somehow managed to reduce an infant forest fire to a few embers, one which could have engulfed the whole forest itself.
Some story, you might say! But this dream-like scenario is very much possible through the Internet of Things. There are forests in Russia which have been fitted with sensors and huge towers which can detect forest fires in their initial stages across large distances. These sensors have to ability to track the entire region for traces of forest fires through infrared mapping and thermal imaging technologies, after which the sensors directly alert the forest department by sending them the exact location of the fire so that appropriate action can be taken. The most important aspect in this case is the way in which technology has been used in alignment with nature in order to create a harmonious and symbiotic relationship, one which needs to be recognized if we are to survive at our rate of consumption and blatant disregard for the planet that we live on and are a part of.