This is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and, for the first time since its inception, there will be no mass gatherings to mark the occasion. No parades. No drumming circles. No raves. Yet on many streets wildlife has returned, if only briefly, to reclaim their stolen habitats. Skies have cleared over smog choked cities. Waters have become translucent in once sullied waterways. Is this not the best way to mark the day?
Of course, the Earth’s natural realms have not healed. Chemical and fossil fuel corporations, mining and timber companies, and the military are still polluting with near impunity. Whatever meager regulations on industry are being slashed every day by the plutocrats in charge. And climate change continues to proceed even as coral reefs bleach and forests burn.
But on this 50th Earth Day, where our entire species has been confronted and our daily transactions and interactions paused by the indiscriminate rampage of a submicroscopic ball of genetic coding, we in the “industrialized world” have also been given a moment to reflect and, hopefully, realize that our “way of life” is really a “way of death.” Business as usual is really the business of plunder. And the status quo is really a march toward extinction.
If there is any meaning to be drawn from the coincidence of Earth Day falling in the midst of a global pandemic 50 years later, it might be that it is a reminder of our place in a chorus of species. That we are all part of an intricate web of life that must be protected is not merely some New Age trope. On the contrary, as this pandemic is teaching us, our very survival depends on us adopting this ethos as the fundamental right of all living beings.
Kenn Orphan 22 April 2020