“Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” by Margaret Atwood

Core Text:

Margaret Atwood, Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet (9-26-2009)

Self Assessment:

I definitely understood the plot of the story well. I am just not 100% sure on how the teaching resources are supposed to be formatted or how many we need. I also don’t know if I formatted my citation the correct way. 


  • Atwood, Margaret. Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet. 2009. 
  • Bburgess@uoregon.edu, et al. “ENG 104: Climate CHANGE FICTION.” ENG 104 Climate Change Fiction, 16 Jan. 2015, blogs.uoregon.edu/eng104/2015/01/16/. 
  • “.” Environmental Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 6 Aug. 2021 .” Encyclopedia.com, Encyclopedia.com, 13 Aug. 2021, www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/environmental-literacy-and-ecocriticism. 


This short story is split up in five main parts. Atwood describes “us” as humans in the beginning of time, before we started creating civilizations, cities, currencies and so on and so forth. We created our own Gods and forged them out of wood, “back when wood was still a thing” she says. Our world was bountiful and teeming with life. Birds flew over us by the millions and millions of fish swam in our seas. Then “in the second age” as she puts it, humans started creating money. On one side of the metal coins we had an important figure such as a king, and on the other side was an animal like a bird or a fish. The people were in awe of this money since it could be changed into such things and if you had enough of it, it was said that you would be able to fly. In the third age money became God. It began to talk and create its own. It created feasts and famines, songs of joy, lamentations. No one could stop money and it had no signs of grace. In the fourth age we created “desert’s”, but these weren’t no ordinary deserts. These deserts were fueled by industrious creations with the urge to make more money. These deserts were covered in cement and the rivers flowed rampant with poison. Wars, famines and plagues visited us, but that did not stop the creation of these deserts. The seas were bare and there was no food left to grow. In the fifth age our world was no more. Destroyed by the greed of money and urge to industrialize this world. 

Teaching Resources: 

  • bburgess@uoregon.edu, “A Warning To Us All,” https://blogs.uoregon.edu/eng104/2015/01/16/. In this source, the author relates them witnessing melting glaciers and the destruction of villages due to rising river waters to “Time Capsule Found on a Dead Planet.” They say this story is so important because it gives us as readers to ourselves in the perspective of an outsider looking down at earth over the years. This story allows us as the readers to create our own emotions towards the people turning land into “deserts”. Atwood’s use of personification is what makes this story so powerful. She forces the reader to reflect upon society and its flaws, and adds a personal connection to the problem that hasn’t had a personal effect. 
  • Wang, Zhongrui and Wu, Qinghua, “Carbon emission reduction and product collection decisions in the closed-loop supply chain with cap-and-trade regulation”. https://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=1c5b323f-a0bc-48eb-bd0c-5dc0ca68a8d3%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=151136547&db=bth. The abstract for this article explains how Governments’ emission policies and consumers’ increasing environmental awareness have brought pressure on manufacturers. Specifically, governments are making manufacturers manage their end of life products. This study looks into strategies on carbon emission reduction and used product collection on the basis of cap-and-trade regulation and closed-loop supply chain. Findings show that when the parameters meet a certain condition, the scenario where the manufacturer leads the collection is optimal for carbon emission reduction, used product collection, and profit generation; otherwise, the supply chain will select the retailer to collect used products. The government can affect supply chain decisions by regulating and controlling carbon trading prices. 

This abstract pertains to “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” because the planet from this story got destroyed because of carbon emissions and pollution. This case study can be extremely helpful to reduce carbon emissions so our planet doesn’t eventually become the planet from “Dead Planet”. 

  • Dupler, Douglas, “Environmental Literacy and Ecocriticism”, https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/environmental-literacy-and-ecocriticism. This article goes in depth on why environmental literacy is important in spreading knowledge on environmental issues. One of the main goals of environmental literacy is to provide learners with the knowledge and experience to assess the health of an ecological system and to develop solutions to the problem. Models for environmental literacy include curriculums that include key ecological concepts, provide hands on opportunities, foster collaborative learning and establish an atmosphere that strengthens a learner’s belief in responsible living. Public interest in environmental education came about in the 1970’s. Much of the drive and funding for environmental education comes from non-profit foundations and educators’ associations such as the association for environmental and outdoor education, the center for ecoliteracy, and the Institute for Earth Education. The National Environmental Act of 1990 directed the Environmental Protection Agency to provide national leadership in the environmental literacy arena. To that end, the EPA established several initiatives including the Environmental Education Center as a resource for educators, and the Office of Environmental Education, which provides grants, training, fellowship, and youth awards. 

Literary Analysis: 

This story puts the environmental crisis going on today in a 3rd person point of view. Atwood lets us look into this apocalyptic world fueled by money and shows us how we could kill our planet from our greed. Because of this style of writing, Margaret grabs the reader’s attention and shows us we need to wake up and pay attention to climate change, or that fictional world in the story could become non-fiction. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Environmental Literature such as “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” show readers that they need to pay more attention to environmental issues?
  2. In what ways does Margaret Atwood capture today’s climate issues in a fictional story?
  3. How does environmental literature such as “Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet” make people aware of environmental issues?