Nature is Healing
May 7, 2020 9:20 AM   Subscribe

The silver lining of social distancing is that reduced carbon emissions have led to a resurgence of wildlife in human settlements as diverse as London, Chicago, Manhattan, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Peterborough, New Jersey, Japan, Scandinavia, Athens, Antarctica, cabbage farms, and Toronto. Nature is also totally healing on the Thames, the Hudson, other urban rivers, the ocean floor, and Crystal Lake. Reduced air pollution means you can even get a better view of the Moon, or Zoom. Maybe we were the virus all along?
posted by HeroZero (53 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maybe we were the virus all along?

I think you being a little deliberately glib here (like the well meaning original dude whose tweet about toys went viral) but as a serious policy position “we are the virus” has an eco-fascism flavor that ain’t great.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:26 AM on May 7 [20 favorites]


Well, somebody didn’t click through before commenting... Great job, 100%
posted by Going To Maine at 9:28 AM on May 7 [64 favorites]


Can you post a link to the original tweet? The first one I saw was the London pigeon joke. Although, if it's just mocking the original tweeter, no need -- I was hoping to keep this goofy rather than acidic.
posted by HeroZero at 9:33 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


all pretty good but definite lol at the Moon
posted by Glinn at 9:50 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


The first tweet I saw with the “we are the virus thing” was this one, and so it's the one my mind jumps to immediately when I see that particular phrase. That tweet was itself a thread linking to multiple sincere “nature is healing” tweets, so the memes are hopefully more a response to original “nature is healing” rather than the disturbing one I think of. (BuzzFeed doesn’t even mention the “we are the virus” one in their little meme-history, though I don’t know that that means much.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:57 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Here's Seattle!
posted by foxfirefey at 10:00 AM on May 7 [12 favorites]


The ocean floor starfish is magical.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:04 AM on May 7 [14 favorites]


These are hilarious, thank you (and I almost forgot to click through as well).

Margaret Renkl had a column recently extolling the benefits of wildlife taking over urban areas. "The pandemic is teaching us that all is not yet lost." Which is really a shockingly insensitive thing to say when hundreds of thousands are still dying. Environmentalists who think that they would do great in a world where wild animals retake cities are the lefty equivalent of libertarians who think that they would be at the top of the food chain on a lawless seasteading barge.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 10:05 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


The Indianapolis street corn, the return of Black Metal bands to the wilds of Scandinavia, and the Lisa Frank Hudson River are the three funniest ones. "We are the virus" is not presented here seriously, of course, so in that vein I would hope that someone could rewrite the "We Are the World" song to a parody: "We Are the Virus."
posted by kozad at 10:07 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


According to Calvino, "As soon as the moon appears in poetry, it brings with it a sensation of lightness, suspension, a silent calm enchantment." Judging from the photo, this holds true for Twitter as well.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:13 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]


"Eco fascism": what is that? Is Bolsonaro being oppressed by indigenous Amazonians?
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:18 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


If your google is broken, you can use mine. eco-fascism
posted by gauche at 10:26 AM on May 7 [15 favorites]


My mother, who feeds the scant few remaining feral cats at CSU Long Beach, had an amusing example of a real "return": a cat who hadn't been spotted for nearly a decade suddenly put in an appearance, lolling around on the sidewalk. He had clearly been there all along; he just hadn't felt like showing himself while all those students were about!
posted by thomas j wise at 10:27 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


I enjoyed this.

But, actually, At-Ats are native to Guatemala. They're an invasive species in Antarctica.

(Perhaps we need a new version of a hashtag that indicates sarcasm. Pilcrow? Asterism?)
posted by eotvos at 10:29 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


gauche, that's interesting, thank you.
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:33 AM on May 7


Yesterday I went outside and the air was so clear I could see the latitude and longitude lines in the sky.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:36 AM on May 7 [31 favorites]


"Eco fascism": what is that? Is Bolsonaro being oppressed by indigenous Amazonians?

That it's fine to murder like 95% of the Earth's population, so that the few that "deserve" to keep living can have a better planet. Being white, upper middle class, and college educated seem to be the main criteria on who gets to be in that 5% for some reason.
posted by sideshow at 10:49 AM on May 7 [10 favorites]


Conversely, there's this: The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent.

Wait, what? Even with the global economy at a near-standstill, the best analysis suggests that the world is still on track to release 95 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year, continuing to heat up the planet and driving climate change even as we’re stuck at home.

A 5.5-percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions would still be the largest yearly change on record, beating out the financial crisis of 2008 and World War II. But it’s worth wondering: Where do all of those emissions come from? And if stopping most travel and transport isn’t enough to slow down climate change, what will be?

posted by peacheater at 10:49 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Maybe we were the virus all along?

Is that Agent Smith talking? Morpheus, I need an exit!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:01 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


So is "nature is healing" the new "jet fuel can't melt steel beams"? A sincere statement from the lunatic fringe that's been ruthlessly memed into oblivion?
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:04 AM on May 7




Conversely, there's this: The world is on lockdown. So where are all the carbon emissions coming from?

It's a good article and worth reading, like much of Grist.

But getting to step back, pause, and see that there are effects from behaviors has some value in changing some people's perspectives. It's important.

Part of it is cultural memory.

People who grew up in the mid- and late-1900s remember the smog, the water, the lead, the chemical dump sites, dead and dying birds, the acid rain, experiences which all lead in one way or another to a general shift towards using laws and governmental enforcement to curtail pollution. In the US, the EPA came out of that. Air and water quality grew better, as a result. Car mileage improved. Etc.

People growing up now never had those experiences, and so there is less opposition to — in the US, say — Trump dismantling the EPA and environmental laws, and we have people casually talk about "eco-fascism". People buy and drive SUVs and pickups, roll coal, laugh about "nature is healing" (myself included), buy waterfront property in Florida, and so on and so on.

I dunno. Maybe we can keep doing what we're doing, but the thermometer keeps rising. Maybe seeing clear water for the first time in their lives can change a few minds. Maybe it doesn't matter and we're all cooked, eventually. My fingers are crossed.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:22 AM on May 7 [5 favorites]


Nature is healing. The jet fuel is melting steel beams. The chemtrails are dispensing vaccines.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:47 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Don't forget 5G - that's what started this whole mess. The coronavirus is here because 5G.
posted by hydra77 at 11:49 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]




The glib is returning! MetaFilter is healing itself. We are the virus.
posted by chavenet at 12:43 PM on May 7 [18 favorites]


> Cash4Lead: "So is "nature is healing" the new "jet fuel can't melt steel beams"? A sincere statement from the lunatic fringe that's been ruthlessly memed into oblivion?"

Basically, yeah. But unlike "jet fuel can't melt steel beams", "nature is healing"/"we are the virus" barely even had a day or two of sincerity before being mocked & memed into oblivion.
posted by mhum at 12:55 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Re: Scandinavia:
Hi, Black Metal expert here. They only come out in their make-up during the day like in that photo when they are in distress.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:48 PM on May 7 [31 favorites]




As someone who grew up lefty environmentalist, the eco fascist thing is just so weird. It’s a terrible Franken-belief system. However that GQ article is a bit lazy. Stuff like:

Eco-fascists today believe that the size of the human population is not only putting a strain on natural resources, but also that masses of displaced people will be a threat to state and cultural stability in a seemingly inevitable post-climate change world.

I mean, yes, that is a true statement. Doesn’t everyone (not just ecofascists) pretty much agree with this?
posted by freecellwizard at 3:00 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Kind of obscures the fact that the richest 10% of the population produces 50% of the CO2 emissions. So its not strictly popilation size that's the problem. Also, cultural change is something white people seem pretty worried about? Like... a purity sort of thing.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:37 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Absurdist "Nature is healing!" memes are my favorite variety of cultural artifact to come out of this pandemic. Thank you.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:41 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]




As for "ecofascism", my read is that it may be an actual thing among a tiny number of people, but it's mostly a buzzword that woker-than-thou types throw at other people who definitely aren't fascists of any kind, but who have expressed concern about the carrying capacity of the planet.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:43 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


And if stopping most travel and transport isn’t enough to slow down climate change, what will be?

It seems pretty unlikely that we have stopped "most" travel and transport, for one thing? I live in an area that is supposed to be taking shelter-in-place fairly seriously. I also happen to live close enough to a freeway to hear it, and let me tell you, traffic may be down, but there are still plenty of people driving on it.
posted by atoxyl at 4:56 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


The eco-fascism discourse feels very pendulum-swingy to me. There is 100 percent a part of the far right that is concerned with ecology, and there is some history of mainstream environmentalism taking on right-wing attitudes as well e.g. the Sierra Club used to be anti-immigration. But it doesn't feel particularly on-target to suggest that this is a major tendency in mainstream environmentalism now. And there are certain things that endlessly get reposted on lefty Twitter or reddit by well-meaning folks that I've come to roll my eyes at. Like people saying "overpopulation" is a right-wing idea because it's actually about the distribution of resources because a minority of the population uses the majority of the resources. Well, yes, but we have seen a dozen identical reminders of this fact, and acting like redistribution of resources among an ever-increasing number of people always gets you out of the jam just ends up at repugnant conclusion-ism.

The fortunate thing about population is that the weight of evidence suggests that you don't need to use coercion to control it, just to give people the resources for family planning! But I feel like this is a pretty mainstream view at this point.
posted by atoxyl at 5:14 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


The eco-fascism discourse feels very pendulum-swingy to me.

I don't know. I feel more like there's now a terms for something that has been a problem for a while. And like many terms that take off it sometimes gets overapplied.

But, like ... I've witnessed discussions on this site where people have suggested that it's a good thing when malaria keeps the population down. It's been bad enough I've felt compelled in recent threads to post a reminder that African children aren't a virus, just to head it off. I've also seen people suggest it's necessary to stop people in developing nations from overpopulating - not making birth control more accessible, not providing women autonomy, but bona-fide belief that it might be necessary to stop people from reproducing by force.

And ... I don't believe that these people are waving their white supremacy flags proudly. I think that if I named them they'd be shocked and offended at the suggestion that these are racist or fascist beliefs.

I am happy there is a name for it that is catching on, even though I might feel that in certain specific instances it has been overapplied.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:13 PM on May 7 [15 favorites]


Here's Seattle!


I see triffids.
posted by jaruwaan at 7:32 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this roundup; I loled.
posted by ferret branca at 8:14 PM on May 7


The Nessies are back!
posted by DrMew at 8:30 PM on May 7


[One deleted. Concern about how this "humans are the virus" stuff can be in service of racism etc is fair, and that point has been made perfectly clear upthread. At this point, rather than start some weird fight about how people aren't genuinely concerned or are being duped or something, instead let's just acknowledge that concern and then enjoy the silly memes.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:55 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


I also happen to live close enough to a freeway to hear it, and let me tell you, traffic may be down, but there are still plenty of people driving on it.

Traffic was pretty damn light around me for a while, and it is still well below where it once was, to the point that the daily traffic jams are still on hiatus. Sadly, the droning of nighttime traffic noise came back after a couple of weeks and has only been getting worse.
posted by wierdo at 9:22 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


eotvos: Perhaps we need a new version of a hashtag that indicates sarcasm. Pilcrow? Asterism?

Hamburger or {\} is the choice for some 'round these parts. (For over a decade! Razzum frazzum, I feel old.)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:22 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]




Last week, my wife and I heard scratching and the patter of detritus falling in our (disused) chimney. Assumed it was a bird trapped in there, we bashed open a fireplace cover and removed the cover from another one, in order to extract and shepherd the poor wee thing to freedom.

Narrator: “It was not, in fact, a bird.”

Suffice it to say that, after a rather incident-filled three hours, a living-room with furniture upended and strewn with leather gardening gloves and cat carriers, and two considerably out-of-breath women...the phrase “NATURE IS HEALING! SQUIRRELS ARE RETURNING TO THE CHIMNEYS!” was heard, delivered in a mildly hysterical tone.

(It is illegal in the UK to release grey squirrels into the wild, or allow them to escape, as they’re classed as an invasive species. In light of that, I wish to state here that I simply cannot imagine how the two furry little Houdinis managed to liberate themselves and scamper off unharmed to freedom. Not in the least. 🙄)

Incidentally, because the day just wasn’t exciting enough, our pet rats - hastily evacuated to a carrier upstairs, out of the way of the wild rodents currently careening around our living-room - decided that chewing open the hinge of their temporary housing and escaping would add a great big dollop of fun to the proceedings. Cue this exchange, mid-squirrel mayhem:

“There’s a rat in the hall!”

“Shit! A wildie, or one of ours?”

[long pause] “Well, I just picked it up and kissed it, so I really hope it’s one of our boys.”
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 4:52 AM on May 8 [25 favorites]


Got an in-law in Seattle, he called recently, thrilled to be able to see mountains from his home that he’s never seen before.

He’s also a frequent flyer (known to circumnavigate purely for fun, not even visiting the countries landed in) who is chafing at restrictions. When I pointed out that the reason he’s seeing those mountains is in part due to nobody flying anywhere, he stopped talking about the great view.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:23 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


Excuse me. Those "Buffalo in Buffalo" are deliberately and miscaptioned bison, in Winnipeg. That's my studio building (which I haven't seen in months now) on the left. Fake news.
posted by wreckingball at 7:17 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


Regarding the ecofascism thing, for those interested, the concept is mentioned/discussed several times during this Citations Needed episode critiquing the use of GDP as a short hand for how well the economy is doing. In particular the discussion with the the guest Dr. Jason Hickel in the back half of the show was informative of how its a relatively small number of people (the usual suspects in the global north) driving climate change through their control of the economy and political system and how important it is that environmental movement be explicitly anticolonial in its approach to solving the climate crisis.
posted by flamk at 9:06 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]




My favorite is Paris.
posted by star gentle uterus at 6:22 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


[One deleted. Blasdelb, this isn't your soapbox for calling out some list of Mefites as genocidal racists for having doubts about GM plants/organisms. Take a break.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:03 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]


I'm enjoying the joke too. A couple which stick in mind:

Crabs are returning to the airports!
https://imgur.com/gallery/DuGzCQn

and cows are returning to the seas!
https://imgur.com/t/cows/blr78Co
posted by illongruci at 3:18 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


> Got an in-law in Seattle, he called recently, thrilled to be able to see mountains from his home that he’s never seen before.

Huh -- I live here and haven't noticed a difference. I can't see any mountains from my house because of the trees, but when I'm out and about the mountains look the same as ever. Sometimes they're out, sometimes they're not.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:00 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


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