In April thousands of people started to upload images of improvements to their local environments and download them to the waiting world. They were not acting like the centralized brain of an advanced organism but like the network of interconnected neurons in a jellyfish, coral, or octopus.
This was appropriate because our species is still living on a primitive planet slowly evolving a planetary consciousness. That process happens by fits and starts and the Pandemic was providing one of those fits … or perhaps one of those starts.
Such consciousness will decide whether we can survive as a higher, technologically advanced and enlightened species, a species, and able to launch an acquired immune response to protect our biosphere.
The images revealed the possibility. In China, mammoth machinery stopped clear-cutting forests and strip mining mountains for coal. They had slowed work on their loop and belt initiative to tie together the entire Eurasian continent in a common market for consumer goods. Some Chinese workers in Italy may have initiated the early Pandemic in that county.
In Texas, wildcatters had stopped drilling for oil and fracking for gas. A few of their companies shuttered their offices and announced they would not reopen as demand for fossil fuels had dwindled to a mere trickle.
Russia and Saudi Arabia were competing to cut their oil production to drive the United States out of the business. And it was working, refineries and shale oil operations had lain off workers. OPEC finally agreed to cut production by 9.7 million barrels a day before inventories of oil fell to critical levels.
Seven billion people had stopped working, driving, flying, and consuming material goods. The results were dramatic. The usual haze of pollution had lifted above Beijing and Los Angeles. The skies had turned a beautiful blue and were no longer crisscrossed by polluting airliner contrails.
In India and Nepal, people could see the towering peaks and craggy faces of the Himalayas for the first time in their lives. It was a moving sight.
All over the world, seismograph stations reported that the planet was no longer shaking and trembling from humans’ feverish activities. A monitor on top of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Mountain revealed that atmospheric carbon dioxide had dropped for the first time since researchers started taking measurements in 1953.
In South Africa, a pride of lions had started to bask in the sun on a road meandering through the shuttered Kruger National Park. Nobody had ever seen them do it before.
In Llandudno Wales, Great Orme Kashimirri goats came down from the hills to walk the empty streets and graze on people’s hedges and gardens, for the first time in anyone’s memory.
In Chicago curators of the Shedd Aquarium felt sorry for their penguins who were getting lethargic from lack of stimulation so they let them wander through the empty aquarium. One of the fortunate penguins named Wellington wandered into the Amazon exhibit and his head spun with wonder as he looked into the tropical fish tanks whose fish looked back with equal interest.
In Rome, the Pope intoned that the Pandemic was God’s way of telling humans we had to curb our lust for material things and lead more spiritual lives. He was named after the acclaimed Saint Francis who had himself communed with nature and was known for ringing the bells of his duomo and to exhort his flock to step into the streets to observe the shining full moon.
Note: Featured Image is “A climate change pandemic – © The Washington Post” Cartoon.